Speaker Academy – Double the Speakery Goodness!

In 2016, Keir Bowden and I started a program called Speaker Academy. The aim of Speaker Academy was to help encourage new and diverse voices into speaking roles at Salesforce events. The catalyst for this program was a Salesforce event where not one woman was speaking in the Developer Theatre. We ventured a guess that it wasn’t entirely due to the lack of representation, we’d been running the Developer User Group and WiT for years at this point and knew these people existed! We made an assumption it was a combination of encouragement and skill that people needed to make the leap onto the stage. So we embedded both of these elements into the core of our curriculum and gave it a go. Over the last four years, we have graduated more than 50 people from our in person and online Speaker Academies and the people we’ve trained have gone on to have great success. Our graduates have spoken numerous times at community groups, World Tours, community conferences and even Dreamforce! A number of blog posts have been written on starting our program, but here is the very first post about this, almost 4 years ago to the day.

As Keir mentions in his most recent post, it’s been a challenge now that I am back US. Times that work for both of us don’t quite work with an eight hour time difference, therefore we decided to split up our efforts and take on new co instructors.* Keir has already mentioned that he has teamed up with Speaker Academy graduate and prominent London community member, Julia Doctoroff. Not to be outdone on this side of the pond, I am excited to announce that I am teaming up with Amber Boaz for teaching our US based classes. I feel like I should probably write an introduction for Amber, but not sure one is really needed. Amber has been a fixture of the Salesforce Community for a long time and has incredible insights to share around speaking at community events, which makes her the perfect co instructor for our new US based sessions.

If you are interested in Speaker Academy and if this sounds like the program for you, please fill out our form so you can be considered for our next round.

*Keir and I reserve the right to still gate crash each other’s sessions and make guest appearances!

Simple Steps to Writing a Great Abstract!

Many people think that the hardest part of speaking at an event is actually getting up in front of people and speaking. For the most part, I would agree with that thought. However, before you get a chance to speak, you need to sell others on your idea and what you want to speak about. This is where this post will come in handy. With Salesforce World Tours, Community Conferences, and Dreamforce on the horizon, it’s never too late to sharpen your abstract writing skills! If your biggest worry is public speaking, I have other solutions for that!

Before beginning your abstract, think through what knowledge or experiences that you have that others would really learn from. Did you build something really great that you think others would enjoy learning about? Build your talk around that! Or if it’s too big of a talk, grab a segment of it. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something interesting to you since you will spend a lot of time with your talk and you don’t want to get bored whilst delivering it. (True story, happened to me!)

  • First off, what is the problem statement? You need a good problem that your talk will instruct people on how to solve. Make sure this is articulated very clearly, otherwise, why would someone come to your talk? If you had this problem, I am sure others have as well.
  • What is the solution? If you have a problem, you must have a solution. You can’t leave your audience hanging! This isn’t the season finale of your favourite TV show!!
  • What will your audience see? This is really important. 65% of the population are visual learners and as much as we want to see you on stage, we want you to show us something. Take us on that journey with you, even if it’s over a cliff. People love a good triumph over adversity story!
  • Take Aways!! I can’t emphasise this one enough. Having been involved in selecting sessions for multiple conferences, I think the number one question I ask is, why? Why should I attend? What is the point? Will I have enough information to put this into practice? Don’t leave your audience hanging like a Tom Brady high five!!giphy
  • Sell yourself! This is not the time to be modest or shy. Pick a great title and if you have something to say, you need to write your abstract like it’s your own advertisement. There are plenty of things happening at the same time during events, this is your time to show what your value proposition is and why they should listen to you!

If you follow these simple steps, you can’t lose. Oftentimes people are scrolling through the program guides and will sometimes just pick your session based on the title! Never pass up an opportunity for a witty title; puns are even better! People are busy, grab them right in the title.

Now go out there and write that killer abstract! There are plenty of events that are still looking for speakers! Follow this link to find a community event if your area.

The 5 Things I Learned from Teaching Others about Public Speaking…


I had the opportunity to teach a six week public speaking class at Salesforce Tower and as our students are preparing for graduation on 25-August, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on a few things.  For instance, how we got here and what I’ve learned. I thought I would share what I learned  before we publish another post on what the students learned.

So the person that hates public speaking, helped to teach a class to encourage people into speaking at Salesforce events.. Yeah, about that.  I am not sure whose idea it was at first, but there was an email from Keir and then a hyper-kid-on-a-lot-of-sugar-email from Will.  Which then turned into an opportunity for me to make a project plan (love those) and the rest was history.  Well history in as much as we got together, had some objectives, I got to use my project plan and we divvied up content / speaking among ourselves with assists from Antonina, Pauline & Kerry. We were running like a well oiled rusty machine!

But enough about the behind the scenes stuff, if you’ve stuck with me this long, you clearly are insane or REALLY want to know what I’ve learned.

  1. Body Language is Important.  I know a lot of the feedback that I give other people are things that I struggle with myself.  Flinging my hands about all over? Yup, do that all of the time.  I tell myself not to, but it still happens.  I’m Italian.. it’s natural.
  2. Keep it Simple.  The KiSS principle really does apply.  As we worked with students to refine their presentations and hone in on one or two key things per slide, I realized how many times I had been guilty of jamming a ton of text on to a slide cause I REALLY NEEDED IT TO BE THERE.  Actually, I didn’t but it tends to be a crutch if you haven’t prepared enough for your talk.
  3. How to be a better prepared speaker and presenter.  I have been giving tips of what to do and what not to do from experience and other resources, but actually all of us can definitely learn a thing or two about what to do better.  Some of these include conducting dry runs, having a prerecorded demo (IT’S NOT CHEATING*) and having screenshots available in case you aren’t able to deliver a live demo.  Can’t wait to try these out at Dreamforce!
  4. Bring a bit of yourself to your presentation.  I have a tendency to keep personal stories out of my presentations but the ones where I have interwoven anecdotes (good and bad) with best practices have been the talks that have been the most successful for me.  Don’t be afraid to let others learn from your mistakes or successes.  It’s easier to relate to you and others may have had similar experiences.
  5. Lastly, I really enjoyed teaching this class.  I was able to see people who may have struggled to find a niche or a reason to tell their story, but they worked at it to find a message and pull it together.  Just watching the progression and hoping even one tiny thing I might have said inspired that, was incredible.  (I’m pretty sure it was probably something that Keir said that inspired it!)

As our students prepare to deliver lightning style talks on Thursday night at a joint London Dev & Women in Tech meeting, we can hope they learned something, remember the tips from class and continue getting up on stage.  The aim of this program was to diversify the speakers at our User Groups, World Tours and even Dreamforce.  We spent a session talking about barriers to speaking and hopefully everyone will come out of this energized and ready to go, because everyone has a good Salesforce story or two to tell!

Thanks to everyone that attended class.  We appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to be a part of this program.  We’re hoping your feedback will make it an even better experience the second time around!

*Pre-recording your demos so you can avoid the anxiety of whether or not the wifi will work, Salesforce won’t be slow or you just plain forgot what you were doing is good prep and NOT CHEATING.  Some of us are not adrenaline junkies!


What is a Center of Excellence and Why do I want one?

Recently (Southeast Dreamin’ & World Tour London) I spoke about moving from being a Solo Admin to creating a Center (or Centre) of Excellence (CoE).  The talk I did at Southeast Dreamin’ was a little different content wise from what I had spoken about at World Tour.  I’ve also summarized a fair amount of the important points in this post.  Now that you have a good background on how to quantify and qualify your time as well as ask for assistance, I am going to move into the next part of this topic.

What is a Center of Excellence?

A Center of Excellence leverages People, Processes, Knowledge and Technology to drive business value, encourage collaboration, socialize best practices and promote standards across the business.

This sounds fairly easy and straightforward, right?  Not really.  The devil is always in the details and in trying to figure out how to effectively leverage people, processes, knowledge and technology to drive business value.  It’s one of those sentences that sounds great on paper (or online) but means very little without some best practices to guide you through the creation process.

Core Pillars

Ok, well core pillars now sounds really official!  It sounds like we’re getting somewhere now, so let’s define the 5 Core Pillars that comprise a CoE.


Governance:  This is the processes that ensures the effective and efficient use of IT in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.

Business Management: Empowering the business to know what to deliver, why it is important and the value to the business.

Change Management: The process to manage enhancements, timely delivery to market, prioritization and utilization of resources

Release Management: Ensuring the highest quality with structured processes and methodology.

Support Management: The ability to provide Subject Matter Expertise, responsiveness and education.

Now that you know what the Core Pillars are, why do you want to build a CoE?

Here are some reasons why building a CoE is the right thing to do to manage Salesforce effectively for your business.

  • Salesforce is unique and encompasses competing stakeholders within Sales, Marketing, Service across one or more businesses and/or regions
  • Delivering a quicker time to market with utilizing out of the box and easily configured features but discipline and process is essential
  • Managing the rapid change of pace as Salesforce has thrice annually releases in addition to ever changing business needs
  • Justifying license model and reacting to data management challenges by ensuring adoption is high, data is clean and trusted by the business to justify investment
  • Acting on complex org decisions such as single or multi org strategies due to organic growth or growth by acquisition in a firm.

In the next post, I will detail each of these pillars out more and with additional details.

My Process Builder Session at Dreamforce

Thank you to everyone that came out to see my first session at #DF15, “Lightening the burden for your users with Lightning Process Builder”.

I appreciate all of the comments and questions.

I am posting my slides and the video that I used during the session.

Slides: DF Lightning Process Builder

Demo: Creating a Process

FYI: There isn’t any sound to the demo.  It’s actually just the screen clicks that I went through during Dreamforce.  If it would be beneficial to have voice or steps, let me know and I can rerecord.