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A Consultant, a Lawyer and an HR Director walked into a Bar….

November 16, 2011

I really have no qualms about getting up in front of an audience.  Oh sure, I may get an attack of the nerves and get a tad sweaty but when all is said and done I truly enjoy public speaking. (Quite surprising, actually, that I’m able to enjoy it at all after the traumatic experience I had at the age of 5 when I wet my pants on stage during a dance recital.)

Therefore, as one can surmise, over the years of my HR career I’ve snatched every opportunity offered to speak to various SHRM chapters, non-profit organizations, conferences for non-HR professionals, and pretty much anyone who will ask.

Yesterday I arrived in lovely San Diego where I’m presenting a session today called “HR and Social Media:  What the HR Professional Needs to Know” at the 2011 HR and Employer Compliance Summit.  I’ll be talking about the opportunities that exist for HR pros and their HR Departments to tap into the power of social media.  I’ve been doing variations on this session for close to a year now (this is about the 5th time) and I have a sense it’s just about the last hurrah.   We’re pretty much past the OMG-a-shiny-object-what-the-hell-is-that stage and if someone in HR is still not “getting it”…well, merely attending a presentation at this point in the game is probably not going to get them eagerly involved.


But I don’t want to discuss today’s presentation. Rather, I want to talk about a topic that surfaces quite regularly out here in the HR blogosphere: “Why aren’t there more HR practitioners presenting at conferences?”  In fact, Mark Stelzner revisited it just yesterday.

There are as many answers to that question as there are dirty players on my least favorite NFL teams, but here are a few that come to mind:

  1. HR practitioners with day jobs in corporate HR functions are, more often than not, unable to go and speak at conferences with the full support of their organizations (financial or otherwise) and therefore must decide whether to use PTO days and fund the miscellaneous expenses out of their own pockets.  There may be a number of HR folks who are interested in speaking, leading sessions and sharing their experiences but doing so presents a personal financial burden or they are unable/unwilling to use valuable PTO days.
  2. Attendees at HR conferences don’t clamor for real-voices from in the trenches.  Rather, they allow themselves to go along with the typical flow – attending presentations by speakers who have nothing more to give them credibility than a CPS after their name. Or a JD. (apologies to all my attorney friends
  3. HR professionals are often not the most eager champions for each other.  Really.  It’s kind of sad that we don’t support each other and encourage each other to do IGNITE-type events on HR topics.  Why is that?  I know of IT professionals who form “hacker groups,” for example, and take turns presenting content and topics to their peers, thus simultaneously gaining speaking experience and learning.


So how did I make the leap from presenting primarily within the cozy confines of my state borders?  I got the push and support from some dear friends who I initially met in the online space.

  • William Tincup and Bryan Wempen provide a daily forum, Drive thru HR, for HR practitioners to talk about HR issues and share with each other.  A few visits to their radio show provided me with exposure to others in the space (i.e GSMI, today’s conference organizers) who approached me to be a speaker after an appearance on DTHR.
  • Laurie Ruettimann has written about the need to get more HR practitioners on the speaking circuit.  She also followed up with an individual conversation and personal encouragement to me that got me to say “heck yeah” when the GSMI folks asked me to speak.

Support + Encouragement + Desire = Opportunities.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ggmckinney permalink
    November 16, 2011 11:31 am

    I love your presentation! Gives great hands on and ideas to take to the office. Btw what’s the punch line?

  2. November 22, 2011 7:21 pm

    Thanks Gretchen! And I have no idea of the punch line…we’re gonna have to come up with one though cuz it’s a pretty good set-up.

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