A Blog Not Limited

to web design, standards & semantics

The Next Level

Apr 23, 2009

Published in

Ever since I started this blog and became active on Twitter, my professional life has taken some dramatic (at least to me) turns.

Before, I just had a job. A rather unsatisfying job. And while I still have that same (soul-sucking) job, I'm much more satisfied in my professional life. Why? Because I actually have a career now.

Just looking for the presentation details? Feel free to skip right to them.

It's All About Perspective & Action

To me, a career is different than a job. The job pays the bills. The job lets me live where I do. And that's about it … at least with my job. There is little to no professional satisfaction. I'm rarely "heard" or respected (except by my immediate boss, who is amazing). I'm almost never allowed to be creative or grow.

But with this blog, I'm able to be creative. I'm able to share my knowledge and ideas, and have them heard … even respected. And that has made a huge difference in how I think about myself as a professional. I'm not just some cog in a huge corporate system with no opportunity.

Thanks to this blog, and promoting it on Twitter, I have nothing but opportunities. And now I realize I have a career. A career that I can take in any direction I want, as long as I work hard towards my goals.

What Are My Goals?

Well, one of my goals (admittedly one that I expected to take longer than it did) was writing a book. And it is happening! And as amazed as I am with the opportunity, I'm learning to realize that it isn't just a fluke. It is a direct result of me working hard, writing good content and sharing that information.

So, I'm trying to take that same attitude and apply it to another one of my professional goals: being a speaker. A speaker? Yeah, you know, giving presentations about various web topics to a group of people (hopefully) interested in learning something.

There's a Void

Why is this a goal? To be frank, it's because I sense a void in our industry when it comes to speakers. I've attended a bunch of professional conferences and workshops, and every time I walk away thinking, "I didn't learn anything new. I could do that and maybe even better."

This is not at all to say that the highly-qualified, extremely-knowledgeable speakers I've seen aren't doing their jobs. They are. I've just been working in this industry for so long, that I'm equally qualified and knowledgeable. And I can't help but feel that there need to be more "fresh" faces out there, with different voices and perspectives.

Not Enough Women

I will never say there are too many men in this industry (the more men, the merrier I am). But there aren't enough women, especially high-profile women, who are representing at the various conferences and workshops. I don't really believe talented, knowledgeable female web professionals aren't out there. I just suspect they aren't putting themselves out there.

And as much as it scares me, I've come to realize that I'm willing (and want) to put myself out there. Primarily for myself and my professional growth, but also to be one of those women who puts a female face and perspective on this industry.

Connecting & Sharing

Another motivation for my desire to be a speaker is that I've discovered I like educating, sharing and connecting. I used to consider myself rather introverted. And I still think I am. But put me in a group of fellow web professionals or people who want to learn more about what I do, and I become an extrovert. I want to talk to people. I want to exchange ideas. I want to connect. And I can't get enough of it.

I owe this personal discovery to my involvement with Webuquerque. It has been an amazing experience thus far. Interacting with such a diverse and engaging group of people every month inspires me to do more.

Baby Steps

Of course, I have virtually no public speaking experience. And I totally hate being the center of attention. But I realize those are lame excuses not to pursue a goal.

So, last year, I presented for the first time at BarCamp Albuquerque 3 on web standards. I was a wreck. And I still can't bring myself to listen to the audio recording. But it was one step closer.

Then, in March, I presented on CSS with my Webuquerque co-manager. This time, the presentation was video recorded. And, yet again, I can't bring myself to watch. But, still, another step in the right direction.

Which brings me to today. And I'm about to begin a "whirlwind" of presentations over the next few weeks. While I'm not entirely sure how all of these opportunities came my way, I am certain that, on some level, it is because I had a goal. A goal that kept me focused on my blog, kept me engaged on Twitter, kept me motivated as I write my book … just kept me working hard.

Hear Me, See Me

So, if you are going to be in the Albuquerque area over the coming weeks, you should come see/hear me speak. Here's where I'll be and what I'll be talking about.

April 29, 2009: Microformats

On Wednesday, April 29, from 10:0011:30am I will be giving a presentation on microformats to the University of New Mexico's Information Architects.

Introduction to Microformats will be exactly that: an introduction and overview of microformats, with a focus on some basic examples of common microformats, as well as demonstrations of some of the available tools that leverage microformats for machine data.

The presentation will be held in the Trailblazer and Spirit rooms in UNM's Student Union Building. There is seating for up to 40 attendees and the event is free.

More information is available on Duke City Fix.

May 4, 2009: My Journey as a Web Professional

On Monday, May 4, at 4:30pm, I will be speaking to a group of UNM's inservice and preservice teachers, who are currently taking a course on the construction and deconstruction of media: Multimedia Literacy for Educators.

My presentation, tentatively titled My Journey as a Web Professional What I've Learned Along the Way, will be entirely personal. I'll be talking about how I got into the web field, my career path thus far, and recent changes I've made to position myself differently as a web professional.

I will also talk about my perspective on the apparent gender disparity in the field. And, finally, I will talk about my own use of social media to help direct my career, specifically about Twitter and how my book deal came about.

This is a private class. However, if you are interested in attending, please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I'll see what I can do.

May 6, 2009: Web Standards & Accessibility With Dreamweaver

Virginia DeBolt and I will be presenting Standards & Accessibility With Dreamweaver for Webuquerque on Wednesday, May 6, beginning at 6:30 pm, at Uptown Sports Bar and Grill.

We will discuss the principles of web standards and accessibility, and demonstrate how to use Dreamweaver to achieve both. Key demonstrations include:

  • Dreamweaver's CSS-based templates, which have been tested across all major browsers
  • Creating accessible forms
  • Semantic markup and how to overwrite generated markup that isn't semantic
  • Dreamweaver preferences you can set to support accessibility
  • And more!

Want to join us? Sign up for a reminder from your preferred social network:

May 14, 2009: ExpressionEngine Demonstration

I will be joining a number of other local web practitioners at O'Niell's on Thursday, May 14, from 3:305:00pm to speak at NMTC's Tech Thursdays: CMS Case Studies.

This presentation will be a short one. For about 15 minutes, I'll be demonstrating ExpressionEngine: how I use it as a CMS for work and freelance projects, the benefits of EE, and why it is my preferred tool for site development.

The other presenters will be giving 15-minute demos of their preferred CMSes, including Joomla, Plone 2 and WordPress.

The event is $10 for NMTC members, $20 for non-members. Please register for this event if you'd like to join us.

Focusing on the Goal

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm close to petrified about each of these speaking opportunities. I suffer from self-doubt, stage fright and far too much else going on in my life to let me feel completely prepared.

But while these fears are real and, at times, paralyzing, they are nothing in comparison to how much I want to continue taking my career in a more satisfying direction. And, at least now, that means more speaking engagements. I need the practice … not to be perfect, but to learn how to be effective and engaging.

HTML5 Cookbook

Interested in HTML5?
Get the Cookbook!

I was a contributing author for HTML5 Cookbook, available for sale on Amazon! Get yours now! (I hear chapters 1, 4 and 5 are particularly good.)

P.S. Don't forget my book Microformats Made Simple is still for sale!


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Joe Lewis's Gravatar

Joe Lewis opines:


Good for you!

As a former professional classical musician, I can tell you that nothing helps get rid of the symptoms of stage fright like being prepared. For musicians, this equals lots of practice. For presenters, it is getting your talk organized well ahead of time, and maybe practicing it on a few hapless victims in exchange for beer and pizza. The next step is exactly what you’re doing - getting gigs and doing it!

Beth's Gravatar

Beth opines:


But there aren’t enough women, especially high-profile women, who are representing at the various conferences and workshops. I don’t really believe talented, knowledgeable female web professionals aren’t out there.

Quoted for truth!

Glad things are coming together so nicely for you :)

Sean's Gravatar

Sean opines:


I agree with Joe - preperation is 100% important. My day job is a language teacher and one of the courses I teach outside of my department is Presentation Skills. I’ve also given several presentations to audiences ranging in size from 5 to 250.

Practice practice practice. Use note cards and practice practice practice.

Leslie's Gravatar

Leslie opines:


Hi Emily,

I really enjoyed this post. Its been a long time since I’ve done any speaking, but I used to do it quite frequently in college and just after (business presentations galore & sketch comedy… and now I feel old).

When it comes to presentation, I agree 100% with Sean and Joe. Practice, practice, and practice some more.

The goal isn’t to be “perfect”. Rather, the goal is to know the materially audibly so it becomes more like muscle memory then brute force memorization.

Getting to this point is easier than it sounds and it does get easier with every engagement.

One trick I used back in my speaking days was to practice in front of a mirror. Yes, I hated every moment of it, but it really helped me connect what I was saying with what I was physically doing. It helped me view my body as more of instrument in the communication process that I could learn to control and use to my advantage.

Emily's Gravatar

Emily responds:


@Joe, @Sean & Leslie - Thanks for the advice and support! I’m glad to say that I took the advice: lots of practice, notes and (uncomfortably) watching myself speak in front of a mirror.

And it worked: my first presentation was yesterday and it was the most comfortable I’ve ever been in front of a group. I knew the material and I was prepared (or as prepared as I could get with my limited time right now). I ended up having a great time :)

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The Coolest Person I Know

Emily Lewis

Yeah, that would be me: .

I'm a freelance web designer of the standardista variety, which means I get excited about things like valid POSH, microformats and accessibility. I ply my trade from my one-person design studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106 USA.

A Blog Not Limited is my personal blog where I pontificate about web design, web standards, semantics and whatever else strikes my fancy. Head on over to Emily Lewis Design if you'd like to see my work or, even better, hire me.


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