I love conferences. Love ‘em.

There is a social buzz that flanks the air of learning.. some kind of giddiness that all at once celebrates being away from home, meeting new people.. ahh. It’s the kind of feeling that summons the smell of fresh pencil shavings from a first day at school or the first whiff of an open package of loose-leaf paper; it’s the tingle in your gut when you don’t know if you’ll be dressed appropriately; the dryness in your mouth when you flounder to remember the name of someone you’ve been introduced to 10 times in a row.

Yep. I love conferences.

When I found out I was speaking at Social Capital Conference  (#SoCapOtt), I was over the moon. Last year – the first year of the social media learnathon – was a smashing success and I couldn’t wait to be part of the atmosphere again. I just couldn’t believe that I was actually going to be speaking about something that came naturally to me, to boot.

I mean, we’ve all at various times had to speak in front of people. Some of us love it, some of us hate it. I personally love it, but I usually sweat profusely before I ‘go on’ and for the first 5 minutes awkwardly wrap my tongue around consonants and words that all of a sudden seem to be totally foreign as I try to come across super polished and together. Think Austin Powers (“Allow myself to introduce.. myself..”).

Of course usually I’m doing presentations about incredibly serious, professional, ‘grown-up’ stuff that makes me drop my voice 5 octaves and sound like Mira Sorvino in that movie with Chow Yun-Fat  just so I can be taken as seriously as the subject at hand. That’s what happens when I talk about business, or strategy, or project management, or anything else where your combined life experience is on the line and makes you swallow hard and swat the word ‘expert’ away when it’s thrown at you. Gulp.

Luckily, I don’t consider myself an expert at blogging at all. I’m not a veteran. I’m not a pro.. the topic I was speaking about – Privacy – Where Do You Draw The Line – was really something I still struggle with everyday. So somehow, as I hobbled up to the front of the class I just kind of.. relaxed. I totally felt like I could have been in my PJs. And really, the fact that I had taken some pain meds for a torn hamstring may have had something to do with it, but I still want to credit the audience. It was less a presentation, and more a conversation. Their interaction and genuine interest was disarming and inspiring all at the same time.

I’m not saying I didn’t freeze up for a split second when I couldn’t get my presentation to load (a gazillion thanks to Bambi Blue), but then it hit me. I’ve been writing about my most personal, soul-baring life experiences over at YMC Trying Times, and frankly, the people in the room with me already knew.. everything.

I know generally you’re the one who’s supposed to picture your audience naked when you’re speaking. But somehow I took a great comfort in the fact that it was me baring it all up there.

Just to clarify, I was not actually naked.

I’d like to think that there would have been more people in attendance if that was the case.

Thanks so much to Lara Wellman, Karen Wilson, and the planning committee of Social Capital Conference 2012. It was an amazing experience, and I hope I get to be part of it again.

Here’s a peek at my presentation slides! (Beware. The word ‘vagina’ is in there.)

Also, take a look at my first, mobile-edited video, thanks to Anthony and Lara from Do More Video..(and Chevrolet Canada).