In July 2020 I put my hand up to join an accelerated speaker boot camp called Shine. The program has been around for a few years as a 3-day workshop, however, this is the first time it was available online. It was an intensive six-week program designed to help prepare you to take the stage as a conference speaker (gulp).
Given Shine‘s track record, I knew the next six weeks would pack a punch. What I didn’t know was how much value and support I would receive. Below is a recap of what we covered and what I learned.
What’s included in Shine Bootcamp
Here’s a quick rundown of what is included:
- On-demand workshops (with recordings),
- Professional coaching,
- Facilitated peer feedback,
- Headshot & speaker reel,
- A visual illustration of your talk,
- Ongoing community & networking opportunities,
- Speaker showcase (ie. an online conference where you get experience speaking to a large audience),
- Swag box 👇
On Oct. 6th, 2020 I took to the (virtual) stage to give a twelve-minute presentation about marketing fundamentals. Here’s how conference attendees responded:
Shine Bootcamp’s Mission
I think we’ve all been to a conference (or several conferences) and noticed that many speakers often look and sound the same. The founders of Shine noticed this too and wanted to fix the problem by providing tools and support to help women become respected speakers and leaders.
Over the past few years, they’ve built a community and helped elevate the voices of many leaders in tech and marketing. It’s this foundation that has helped to shape the program and foster a rounded community that cheers for your wins and supports your growth.
My Shine Bootcamp review (and biggest takeaways)
With one-on-one coaching and peer feedback sessions, I learned a tremendous amount about where I was on point versus where my presentation skills needed work. You’ll never be able to become a good speaker without understanding these two things.
Here are my four main takeaways that will stick with me throughout my career:
1. What is clear to you could be really confusing to others.
You get a chance to figure this out by workshopping your talk as a group. This was invaluable to me. Something that I know inside out and can ramble on about for hours isn’t going to impress three-hundred people sitting in an auditorium. Getting questions, cues, and timing tips helped to ensure I was hitting my main points effectively. Coaching and community are what will help you figure out where your blind spots are and how you can fix them.
2. Talk about yourself in the first person.
Talking about yourself in the first person can be tough. This is something I struggle with, but figuring it out helped to ensure my presentation was much stronger and clearer. I basically had to rehearse the entire thing over again and I train myself to talk about what I did, what I learned, what I achieved. Over the years I’ve been taught to talk about things as a team…but that doesn’t land when an audience sees one person standing on stage alone. It almost makes you seem less credible.
📣 BRAG ABOUT THE THINGS YOU HAVE DONE. 📣
(…Because that’s why you’re on stage in the first place.)
3. Don’t take every piece of advice literally.
This one hurt my brain at first, but eventually, I got there.
One of the presentation tips that I struggled with was to avoid making lists. When I began building my talk, I followed this as much as possible when I put my slide deck together.
As I went through rounds of edits I cut list slides out one by one. Eventually, I had one left. My nemesis:
I agonized about how to recreate this so that it was more powerful (and less like a bullet list). My brain could not get past this creative challenge and I ended up keeping it in the deck. I was VERY surprised to learn that this is what people ended up tweeting and doodling about:
You don’t need to follow every recommendation religiously and every person will have different takeaways from your talk. I don’t think I would have fully understood this without feedback and support from the Shine community.
4. Think about your application in the eyes of the conference organizer.
There is still more work ahead of you once you wrap up at the Speaker Showcase. After you polish your talk and present it to a real audience, it’s then up to you to put yourself out there and start pitching.
Shine does not leave you out on your own to figure this out alone. They put together summary material after we’d wrapped up to give people more insider info you need to know before you start reaching out to conference organizers.
I learned how to put myself in their shoes and position myself appropriately. For example, when you’re trying to pull an event together, it can be pretty chaotic. You need to be considerate of that when you approach someone about talking at their conference. It’s like applying for a job–you can’t just make one resume and blast it out, you need to put in effort into each submission. And follow-ups. And thanks yous. etc.
The biggest surprise of all?
When Shine came to an end, I didn’t expect it to keep going. However, while the program may have ended a few months ago, the community is still going strong. People are regularly sharing out speaking opportunities and celebrating personal updates about speaking slots alumni have booked. It’s this extra layer that helps keep me motivated and inspired.
Shine Bootcamp review: the final product
Here’s the final product: