I was delighted to see my schedule open for the  September 10th NSA/NC (aka the National Speakers Association/ Northern California) chapter meeting and to see that the topics looked particularly pertinent to my interests.

Attending this day was a good reminder that in order to build relationships and networks, you have to keep showing up! Getting to know people takes time, especially for us solopreneurs that don’t have a workplace to go to every day. I’m excited about building community with local speakers by getting more involved in the chapter.

I really appreciate that they offer morning and afternoon sessions separately, in this case I couldn’t stay for the afternoon “deep dive” so it was nice to only have to pay for what I was attending.

Kristy Rogers, the chapter networking coordinator got the day started with a quick networking game focused on finding ways to support each other by each of us answering a few questions, rapid fire style and the rest of the group listening to write on the back of a business card a way you could help the person speaking. It was a fast way to make connections & I really hit it off with the women I was sharing a table with. I love meeting other powerful, passionate, professional women!

Next up was Mike Robertson (a man who can seriously rock a coordinated suit) with “Make Your Slides Sizzle,” a presentation that inspired more oooh’s and ahh’s than I’ve heard while sitting in an audience for a very long time! When speaking to a room full of professional speakers, it can take a lot to get create a wow factor, but Mike hit the mark.


He showed in a crystal clear way how making your slides work for you to create a visual impact (rather than treating slides as an after thought,) can take a presentation from boring to maximum level memorability.

“Slides should enhance what we do, not repeat what we do, not replace what we do.” – Mike Robertson

Mike has great comedic timing and guided us through a ton of useful information set to his backdrop of clever and creative slides. He also talked about how to look for stories to use in presentations during everyday moments of life. He encouraged us to look at the world creatively and see how our slides can show those moments in a more impactful way.

Here’s a few more of the gems he shared:

  • Slides are NOT the digital edition of the old flip chart!
  • No font is good for everything, but every font is good for something.
  • Dig into the program you’re using [to design slides] and learn the transitions, features, and every menu item.

After a short break came a panel titled “Find the Right Match: How Decision Makers Choose the Right Speaker for Every Event,” with 5 women from different backgrounds (+ moderator Liza Sichon.)


As I’m working to expand my speaking practice, this kind of information can be invaluable and the panel delivered.  Unsurprisingly, there was a general consensus that the speaking industry is in flux (like so many other communications industry as well) and that it’s important to find updated ways to get your message seen and heard.

When anyone can call themselves a speaker, how do you stand out?

All of the advice these women shared centered around improving your skills as a speaker first and foremost, and then to treat each potential speaking opportunity uniquely.

They discussed current trending topics, with disruption, branding and entrepreneurship all ranking high on the list.

Katrina Smith, owner and speaking agent at Keynote Speakers, Inc. said;

“See constructive feedback as a gift.”

Suzanne McIntosh is Paypal’s Head of Large Enterprise Strategic Events & Executive Producer and she said;

“Send a thank you note to the event organizer! If you want a long term relationship & have repeat business, keep the connection going even after you cash the check.”

Miriam Lopez, the Program Chair for the Network of Executive Women Northern California Chapter said;

“Don’t market yourself during a speech you were hired to give. Give the speech you were hired to give and don’t directly market yourself. Let your speaking do it for you.”

Lisa Hickey, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the Vice President of Professional Development for the Northern California HR Association suggested;

“If you’re willing to speak pro-Bono, make sure you put that in your LinkedIn profile & your one-sheet.”

Englina Jaspers, former VP Marketing HP and Flex, who recommends;

“Know the industry, business, and demographics of the organization you’re pitching to. Use LinkedIn as a resource to know who you’re dealing with.”

If you’re a speaker in the Northern California area it would be a wise investment to check out the local NSA chapter (in fact they have some interesting topics coming up as well as the Winter Conference being held in Burlingame, CA in February 2017.)