What I learned from keynoting

A letter sent to all newsletter subscribers in the early evening of November 9, 2017.


Yesterday morning, I wrote to you about a keynote I was gearing up to speak in that afternoon. This morning, I woke up to an email from one of you: “Dear Diana, I think I speak for everyone reading when I ask: How did it go!?!

Here goes: it was a surreal, beautiful experience. Every moment of the day is etched into my memory with adrenaline ink. It went really, really well—people were glowing when they came up to me afterward. I was glowing, too.

Here’s a photo of me on stage, grabbed from the video by Daniel Peter:

Diana at Dreamforce.jpg

I watched it this morning, ready to find something wrong with it and let my joy be marred, but no: it’s so me. I just can’t believe I managed to be myself in front of that many people.

Thank you for sharing the hope—and the fear!—of the experience with me. I feel some urge to summarize my approach, to make it useful. But so much of it was so personal. There’s a self-deprecating joke I started making early on in the process—that public speaking means facing your demons and looking good doing it. I’d revise that now to say this: public speaking is the art of facing your demons and finding a way to let them make you more present. In my case, talking with Edmond last week helped me realize how afraid I was of disappointing my team, which helped me realize how much I cared about what they thought, which helped me anchor on how much I cared about them and all the work we’d done together. That’s when I turned a corner down the road to celebration, and that’s where I’m living today.

What I learned from keynoting is this: my demons hold the key.

Diana Berlin