What I learned from giving my first conference talk

Back in November last year I was honoured to be invited to speak at the ICT Summit in Warsaw, about some of the hurdles that European entrepreneurs building global businesses are facing. Whilst I had published the slides and the overview of my talk, yesterday I realised that I had never really watched or shared the video.

So last night I sat down and watched the video and put down a few notes to myself on things I have learned from the experience. They may be a tad critical, as this is an area I’m working to improve in, so I’ll let you watch the video first and then list them out.

All done? Excellent!

Here’s the things I learned by going and giving this talk:

1) Poland and it’s ecosystems are amazing.

The fact that they reached out and invited an early stage startup founder, who launched a business from Cyprus and is now based in the UK, to share with their ecosystem speaks loudly about their efforts to bring in experience from far and wide.

Note to self: appreciate when opportunities like this present themselves, as sometimes ‘being busy’ clouds the open doors to learn and share.

2) Make sure you’ve gotten the mic setup before the next speaker starts.

The rush of just winging it put me off my game and didn’t allow me to ease into my talk as much as I would have liked.

Note to self: as a speaker it’s your job to be on your game, don’t let anything interfere with your mindset, people have come to listen to what you have to share.

3) Speak. More. Slowly.

“Growing up in a family of 4 males and a lawyer, you learn to speak fast to get things heard.” Well, that’s my usual excuse. The truth is, when I’m nervous or excited (and I was both) I tend to speed up my speech for some reason.

Note to self: discover a way to really pace myself with a clock or something, hints?.

4) Record more practice runs

I, like many people, find my recorded voice a little strange. I think by really watching some of my practice runs more closely, I’d have ironed out more of these ahead of the time.

Note to self: get more used to recording myself, and even more used to hearing my own voice.

5) Separate pitching from sharing experiences.

It appears I got stuck in pitching mode, mixing in a bit too much of what we do at included, with the lessons fellow founders and I had learned. Although this is what I live and breathe everyday, giving a talk like this is a lot different from building and pitching win-win partnerships that help founders grow their businesses.

Note to self: don’t always be pitching, I went to share experiences not raise capital yet.

6) I walk when I talk. A lot.

Although I made a bad joke about moving around a lot, I did tell them! But no seriously, I never really realised how much I do. Good thing I like doing walking meetings, right?

Note to self: try stay in frame, as much as possible.

7) Schoolboy error: Don’t skip over explaining what your company does.

And I left this one to last as it’s the one I’m most embarrassed about. Whilst trying to not be too sales-y, I forgot to explain why included matters and therefore why I’m so passionate about sharing the ways we’re knocking down hurdles.

Note to self: #fail.

You may be wondering why I’m posting this publicly, or why I’m even worried about giving talks when I’m a technical founder of a growing startup, and the truth is that I want to be able to share the amazing things we will accomplish at included via as many mediums as possible, as effectively as possible.

So I put myself out there, outside of my comfort zone, and believe I came away a better asset to the mission because of it.  Let me know what you think in the comments below, on @inztinkt or via email.

Keep the passion,


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Hey, I'm Hector 👋

I lead strategic initiatives for people, brands, and projects at the intersection of tech & work

I’m part web dev, part guerrilla marketer, and all geek.

I love working on interesting ways to build campaigns, implement tech, elevate voices, and drive revenues for market-defining personalities, brands, and platforms.

In 1999, I hit upload on my first “website”, and 12-year-old me was immediately hooked on the ways the internet would become a force multiplier for people, brands, and ideas.

Since then I’ve worked on over 850 strategic initiatives across media, advertising, non-profits, proptech, e-commerce, marketplaces, productized services, and more.

I’m currently a co-founder of Syncaroo.com and curate the This Week In Coworking newsletter.

Previously I founded included.co and led the growth of the global perks network to 700+ communities, supporting over 133,000 members and businesses.

In my blog and on stage I share thoughts, observations, and undercurrent trends at the intersection of workspaces and technology.

Would you like my blog updates via email?

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