Inspire a speaker today

A question that I haven’t investigated enough yet is how speakers decide to be speakers. It’s peaked my curiosity in part because I have a theory about what inspires different people to share in this way.

One thing I do know is how I started speaking. It was a combination of two things:

  1. Having a topic too good to pass up.
  2. Someone telling me that I should do it.

The topic was doing research in Rwanda. Presenting about that work lead to my job at EightShapes, which lead to my job at NPR.

The someone, meanwhile, was actually a series of someones.

The Someones

First, Jimmy Chandler encouraged me. I had told him about the work I had done in Rwanda, and he pointed out how unique it was. Jimmy told Dan Willis about how he was encouraging me, and then Jimmy told me that Dan said I should do it. At that point, only knowing of Dan, I felt like, well, if the famous Dan Willis says I should do it, I guess I should!

And then, finally, Tony Pitale helped me work on my presentation and be assertive enough to snag a spot at UXCamp DC. He gave me the advice (“remember that the audience wants you to succeed”) and review (about what made sense and what didn’t) that got me from deciding to present to actually doing it.

The Presentations

Of course, the work itself was my own. My input inspired getting the work approved, I did the work, and then I thought about it carefully enough to make what I learned useful to other people. The presentation and what I got from it was my success. But the concept that I could do a presentation—that was very much fueled by Jimmy, Dan, and Tony.

If it hadn’t been for these three folks directly encouraging me to present on my work in Rwanda, my career would have been very different.

My Challenge to You

What kind of voices do you wish were better heard in our community? Who do you know who is doing awesome work?

Look at how the answers to these questions intersect, then go encourage those people to present their work. The submissions for the 2016 IA Summit in Atlanta, GA close in 10 days, so now is the perfect time.

About the author

Veronica Erb designs, researches, illustrates, and writes code. She plays ukulele, dances Balboa, and edits Wikipedia. She grew up in a geodesic dome, and hasn't gotten over it.

Say hey to Veronica on Twitter at @verbistheword.