The theme for presentations was ‘retrospective’ and I asked Ant if I could talk about my year developing Lando. It was a really interesting day, with some great talks on what the guys had been up to over the year. I was due on last but as my fifteen minutes approached I got cold feet.
Sat enjoying the other talks, I’d grown increasingly concerned that my presentation was going to come across as a sales pitch. I actually planned to mention as much in my slides when talking about how I’d found promoting Lando difficult but the anxiety over boring or, worse, offending the attendees by pushing a product they didn’t care about made me bail on most of what I was going to say.
I stood up, introduced myself, rushed through the demo of Lando I had prepared and instead tried to emphasise what I had learned from the year, lingering on the problem of self-promotion because that was what was eating at me standing up there.
I finished well within the time limit but, instead of wrapping up or asking questions, the Multipackers began answering mine. They explained that promoting a product isn’t, in and of itself, an evil thing to do; the trick is how you do it.
DON’T: Spam, pester, criticise, try to cause controversy or hide your motivations.
DO: Promote something of value, share your passion, persist and build relationships.
The most important thing I learned was a point Stuart made on the day, and one repeated by Paul. Paraphrased:
You can’t promote a product and come across as altruistic. That’s having your cake and eating it. Either don’t sell something or own the fact that what you’re doing is a pitch. That’s ok. People don’t mind. Just don’t try to mask it as something other than what it is.
That’s really important. I was scared of coming across as a douchebag on Saturday just by sharing my enthusiasm about something I’d created. In hindsight, that’s what everyone was doing – sharing something they’d made or done or come up with – and they didn’t come across as slimey. By bailing on my passionate pitch I strayed into trying to mask my presentation as purely altruistic when it wasn’t and people knew it wasn’t.
Second guessing myself resulted in a weak presentation and a missed opportunity but a valuable lesson in self promotion. A big thankyou to those who were there and everyone who has given me advice since. It may have been a bit of a blur in the talk but Lando is free and available open-source on GitHub. I would love to hear your feedback.