As we walked out of IIeX North America last June, I declared to my colleague, “I’m going to speak in the New Speaker Track at IIeX next year!” Naturally his response was, “That’s great… but what are you going to talk about?” I didn’t know for sure, but thought that perhaps I could speak about the research I was currently conducting on six-second advertising.

Four months later, I was accepted to speak on that very topic at IIeX Europe. Why wait for IIeX North America if I could speak in Amsterdam? I was thrilled to have this opportunity and even more thrilled to have the chance to work with Annie Pettit, my speaking mentor. Annie is incredibly well respected in the industry and tirelessly works to recruit new speakers for conferences, as well as to balance the ratio of men and women speakers at each industry event. Currently, many conferences still have a majority of male speakers. 

Annie provided advice and guidance in the months leading up to IIeX. I knew not to stand behind the “evil” podium or to act like a fake, business-y version of myself. I admit that I was still a bit thrown off with the “motivational speaker” headset, but otherwise felt prepared and comfortable when I finally made it to the stage. The audience was receptive to the research I shared, as well as my best practices for creating successful six-second advertising. I was so thankful that it went smoothly and that my session was well received.

I spoke early on the first day, which gave me the ability to relax and enjoy the other sessions over the next two days. I mostly attended sessions in the New Speaker Track and, for the record, I would have never guessed that any of these speakers were new to this. I attended Nadine Kuijper and Aija Porina’s presentation, “How to ‘Nextgenify’ Your Research,” which discussed the importance of making research snappy and hassle-free for NextGen respondents. I also enjoyed Alistair Vince’s session, “The Widening Empathy Gap,” in which he explained that the empathy gap is indeed growing and not shrinking. While it is easy to understand people like ourselves, it is imperative that we also understand those not like ourselves if we are to truly comprehend the people we are researching.

During the closing ceremonies, I won the “Best New Speaker” award, for which I was beyond grateful. With a newfound confidence, I went on to speak at both Quirk’s Brooklyn and Quirk’s Chicago. Again, I presented my research on six-second advertising, but added in my newly concluded research on how these ads work across multiple platforms.

My American audiences were, in some ways, less polite than my Dutch audience. However, in other ways they were more engaged, so I viewed it as a trade-off. Similar to my experience in Amsterdam, I received great questions from the audience as well as fresh points of view that made me think about six-second advertising from new perspectives.

Quirk’s does not currently have a New Speaker Track, so I decided to attend any session that looked interesting to me. The first presentation I attended ended up being one of my favorites. David Intrator’s “You’re Boring Me” session was both engaging and informative. He explained the importance of a well-structured story, and that it is story structure that helps turn data into meaning. He assured the audience that while AI works with data, it is people who make meaning. I also enjoyed a session on how to write better questionnaires with David Harris. He emphasized that questions must be clear, answerable, easy, and unbiased. While this sounds simple in theory, it made me reflect on the countless questionnaires that I have put together over the past decade, and consider whether they had encompassed those qualities.

My winter/spring “Tour de Conference” has now come to a close, but the memories will live on forever! As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s true. A year ago, I would have said that I could never speak at a conference. It was too daunting—and am I even an expert on anything? My speaking mentor, Annie, says that she commonly hears new speakers say this (especially women). However, I do know what I’m talking about when it comes to six-second advertising and, almost as importantly, I am passionate about it. I hope to convey this passion every time I get on stage. I look forward to speaking at future conferences on topics that I am equally passionate about it and I encourage you to do the same!

If you are interested in learning more about the power of six-second advertising, please attend my webinar on Thursday, April 25th at 1:00pm EDT. You can register here: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/m427lbih2xfk&eom