So I kept trying each year, tweaking my process, and always remembering that it was my proposal, not me, that was being declined. I may not have been ready to be a speaker, but I was welcome in the AU community. And during that time, I went from work-a-day drafter to successful blogger and industry personality. I had already benefited so much from the great contacts I made, both in the AU community and at Autodesk.
Finally, in 2011, my proposal was accepted. I was going to be an Autodesk University speaker! The excitement was more than I can describe, but it wasn’t long before I realized that I’d bitten off a pretty good chunk of something unknown. Luckily, I had a community of contacts to help me plan my approach. With that planning, a tad of luck, and a fair (but not unreasonable) amount of work, I developed my first AU session. Today the community has worked hard to develop a program that guides and even mentors new speakers. It really is a remarkable thing to witness and I can only imagine how much better my first presentation would have been had I had the benefit that today’s new speakers have.
As I prepared to take the stage, I was nervous. I had never spoken before a group and I was well aware that fear of public speaking (or glossophobia) is common. But I was not going to let that stop me. I had wrestled with this matter and concluded that a “presentation” is really a “conversation.” I also determined that if I viewed my audience as a group of one-person units then I would just be talking to one person at a time. Nutty, but true. And it worked!
When my session finally began, it was as if there was a time distortion on the stage—it was over before I knew it. It actually made me sort of sad when it ended because I realized that I was addicted to public speaking. My session was a success.
From that first fateful experience as an AU speaker, I’ve been fortunate to have a moderate amount of career and personal success as both a speaker and writer in the industry. My time on stage has catapulted my corporate career not only in presentation creation and delivery skills, but also in confidence. My willingness to take on huge, unknown challenges increased dramatically and my abilities to adapt and network reached heights I never dreamed of before taking that first step on the AU stage.
But the best part? When I'm walking down the halls of AU Las Vegas, or even when I attend a different function, and someone stops to tell me that my session, my experience, or my effort has somehow helped them just one little bit. That? Well there are no words for how that makes a person feel.
Why do I do it? It seems as if there could be no other way. Each year I look forward to the entire cycle starting over again. Do I recommend the experience? Most certainly, even if your first time isn’t a success.
Want to hear more from Curt? Check out his previous sessions at the AU website.
AU Las Vegas 2019 Call for Proposals is open through May 28—submit today.