How to Handle Live Event Butterflies

After B was born, I went from a pretty physical (on my feet and outside for up to 10 hours a day) job to working mostly from home.

On the couch. In my pjs or workout clothes (even if I had no real plans to work out).


I used to enjoy face-to-face interaction with hundreds if not thousands of people in a given day (seriously – such a cool job).

These days I could probably count my daily face-to-face interactions on a hand or two.

In other words: I’ve become a bit of a hermit over here.

But that changes now. Orrrrrrr…..a month from now.

In May I’m busting OUT of my usual Honolulu-to-Houston travel loop to speak at Nathalie Lussier’s Off the Charts Live in Plano (Dallas).

I’m SO excited for lots of reasons, but, in true Jessie Spano-style, I’m also a bit scared.


Because I’m a total newbie when it comes to events like this.

It’s my first big event for my biz – where I’m there representing myself, not the park service, not TCU, not a volunteer organization…straight up ME. Finally out from behind the laptop.

YES I’m a bit nervous, but I’m also determined to ENJOY the whole experience. And I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.

That’s where you come in :)

This week I’m turning the tables to ask YOU for your best tips on making the most of live events. (Even if you’re a total newbie like me, you’ll learn plenty from the links + comments shared below!)

So let’s get into it.

In this (atypical) video, you’ll learn:

  • Why I’m a teence nervous about meeting so many digi-friends in real life
  • Early scoop on my plans for DFW + Houston meetups this summer
  • That I have a LOT of questions about making the most of live events. That’s your cue ;)

Click below to watch (or take a listen):

Click here to watch directly on YouTube.


I’m headed to Texas to speak at Off the Charts Live verrrry soon.

I’m pretty comfy with the actual presentation part (for now, anyway!), but I’ve definitely got some questions, butterflies, and general concerns about the REST. Specifically:

  • How do you make the MOST of the opportunity to connect with so many people – without a) getting totally overwhelmed, or b) missing out on rare quality time with your best buddies?
  • How do you gracefully handle that awkward moment when someone knows your name and you don’t know theirs (yet)?
  • How do you functionally DRESS for events like this? Layers? Pockets? Fanny packs? Handbags?
  • What do you PACK in aforementioned handbag? ^^^
  • Business cards – yay or nay? What do you DO with them when people give ’em to you? What do you include on yours to make it worthwhile?
  • Anything else that I’m missing?



10 Mistakes to Avoid at the Next Event You Attend by Pat Flynn

From the BRILLIANT and hilarious Marsha Shandur:

Who It’s OK to Approach at a Networking Event (complete with checklist ;))

How to Stop Acting Like a Total Weirdo Around People You Want to Impress #dorkgoblin

How to Get Out of an Awkward Conversation (Without Being Offensive)

Why You’re The Same As Everyone Else. And Why That’s A Good Thing

How Not to Be Self-Conscious – so simple, so true.

….I’m going to stop linking posts for now, because I could add her whole site. If you haven’t met her yet, you’re in for a TREAT :)


In the comments below, tell me:

What are your best tips for making the most of your time + energy at a live event?

I know there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but I’m sincerely interested in your experience(s)!

ALSO: If you want details on my Texas meetups (as they develop), click here to let me know.

To fiiiiinally meeting face to ACTUAL (possibly sweaty?) face,


P.S. Again – if you wanna meet up in Texas, click here and let me know.

P.P.S. If you liked this post + want to help me spread the word by using the links below to share it with your buddies, I would greatly appreciate it! You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel if you’d like to see new videos before I’ve had time to turn them into blog posts ;)



  1. Rebecca Dempster

    Hi Nikki! It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one who sweats the small stuff. I do way more live stuff than online (though thanks to ACAC, I hope that’s going to change). So here are my thoughts on various questions you had:

    You’re 5’8″?!!! Put me in the category of people who pictured you much shorter!! But seriously, just set aside any worries about the difference between how you appear on-screen versus in real life. People are used to being surprised by those things. We’ve all had those moments of thinking “oh I thought she would be taller, shorter, etc” Not a big deal. People love you for your shining personality and awesome work, not so much for your height or because they thought you didn’t have freckles (fellow freckled person here!).

    Business cards – yes, people still do them, though I’m not sure about the online community. It might be worth having some with minimal information (name, url, tagline, social media). It could be more like a calling card for your website than a business card. Some companies will do a mini card instead of a full business card (for a sample, see And if you don’t get them, also no big deal. I only recently got mine so spent the past few years writing down my email address for people instead.

    Other people’s cards – I put them in a slot in my wallet, same place every time so it’s easy to find them later. Also, my big tip here – write down anything you need to remember on the card. Like if you say you’re going to send someone something or you want to follow up on your conversation, make a note of it right on the card. It makes it much easier when you’re looking through a stack of cards when you get home.

    And speaking of memory… with names, I avoid the awkwardness by just straight-up acknowledging that I don’t know or remember their name, i.e., “Can you remind me of your name?” or “I’m sorry I’ve forgotten your name.” It’s turns out not to be awkward at all since everyone can relate to forgetting a name. And more than once when I’ve asked someone to remind me of their name, they’ve asked me to do the same.

    You’re going to do awesome!! So wish I could be there to meet your tall, freckled amazing self!


    1. Rebecca Dempster

      That is the longest website comment I’ve ever written!

    2. Nikki Elledge Brown

      SO helpful, Rebecca! I will review this again in a few weeks’ time.

      And yes – I actually used the straight, “Remind me of your name again?” in an encounter earlier this week. Wasn’t as painful as pretending I knew ;)

      Thanks for taking time to document all of this goodness!

    3. Sage Hobbs

      Thank you, Rebecca! These are awesome tips!

  2. Nathalie Doremieux

    Hi Nikki,

    I was actually at OTC last year so I can share a thing or two! ( and I’m speaking at OTC too, first time, scary and exciting at the same time!

    – be yourself. That’s what people expect, they don’t expect you to be perfect but just to be you. I’m actually 5,2 (so tiny tiny :) ) people that follow you know about your affair with your hair and your freckles (I have tons too but nobody knows that online :) )

    – about meeting as many people as you can: not necessarily a good idea. I tried to do that on my first event (that was PLF live) and it turns out you do not have time to really engage and all you’re left with are a whole bunch of business cards but you have no face to put on the card.
    For OTC last year I did it differently and trusted that whoever I was meant to meet I would and it worked, I made much deeper connections and built strong friendships (Liz Brazier comes to mind, love you Liz <3 )

    – yes business cards are still used I put them in my badge holder :) and I have a small bag with me that I leave by my seat. Water is provided so no need to bring that. I like to put notes on the card so that I remember something about the person when I get home especially if I am supposed to send them something :)

    – remembering other people's name: I was actually really surprised last year when maybe 20 people came to me and thanked me for all my help (I had no clue who they were for the most part and I acknowledge that saying sorry I'm terrible with names and I don't remember but I'm glad I could help.

    That event last year has been a huge boost in my confidence. I had no idea some people knew me and loved me (but you do!) , I got some "I know who you are"," I so want to work with you", that felt amazing.

    I look forward to see you at OTC and I'll definitely join the ACAC meetup :)

    Just be yourself you're perfect as you are!


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      This is perfect insight, Nathalie! Thanks so much for taking time to share it.

      So excited to finally meet you in real life :) You will do great up there!

    2. Sage Hobbs

      Nathalie, SO excited to hear you speak at OTC! A website overhaul is on my wishlist, and your work is awesome. Tech savvy women make me happy, busting barriers on convention :)

  3. Shauna Sanders

    LOVE this vlog. You are always so authentic and this touch of vulnerability is the cherry on top. I too was wondering about biz cards, from the other responses, looks like a yes but not a TOTAL necessity. I’m actually manifesting my way to OTC this year. (read- don’t currently have enough $$ so am making it happen in other ways) Flight- had enough miles so just booked my tix! Event- wrote to Off The Charts and offered my volunteer services. (they said maybe) Bed/Roof- working on that :) Basically, telling everyone I know what I’m doing and seeing who has friends in Dallas who wouldn’t mind loaning their couch or guest room to a very grateful house guest :) Sooooooo, I will make it a point to come say hi when I make it there and let you know my manifestation worked! See you there. You will totally rock it.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Love hearing about those manifestation muscles, Shauna! I can’t WAIT to hear how it all comes together *when* I see you there :)

  4. Beth Rees

    Hi Nikki.

    I’m on the producing side of events, but I do have an idea about what you’re going through. As far as how you appear in the face-to-face space versus the digital space, it’s pretty much one in the same. Just live and not recorded. You are your brand and the look and feel of your digital space is you, minus the professional photography. :) Be yourself and own it. People will either relate to you, or not so much. And not so much is fine.

    You mentioned having a get together aside from this event. Do that! Have a meet and greet and instead of the focus being on you, make it about connecting others That’ll take a lot of pressure off of you, it’ll be fun and you’ll be focused on serving others, which is what you do!

    As for business cards, check out MOO and think about something a little different and creative. I love the MiniCards.

    Have multiple designs with great little quotes to pass out. Include only your name (maybe just your first name) and your website. You’re a creative outside the box, non-traditional “business person”, so skip the stuffy old business card for something fun and interesting!

    Best wishes to you!


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Love those ideas, Beth! I have a feeling I may develop an obsession for Moo minis :)

      Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sheila Viers

    I think the key is asking questions. Not really starting with “what do you do” because that’s lame, but asking about who someone is and what lights them up (might be what they “do” but I like to ask about other things). Also, I play the name game in my head, so I remember their name. I repeat it after they say it and then I try to tie their name to something about them physically, so it sticks — especially in those situations where you are introduced to a lot of people at once!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Great tips, Sheila! Marsha’s main opt-in freebie is her go-to method for remembering names, and while I need to go back and study it again – one step is to picture something physical that goes with the name. #smartypants

      Thanks for sharing!

  6. Grace Albaugh

    Sweet Nikki,

    I love the tips you are getting here and just want to add that we all have our event butterflies.

    Also remember that there is rarely enough time to do everything you want to do or meet with everyone you want to meet. Enjoy as much as you can get done and then touch people virtually when you get home. Folks know how busy these event are and will appreciate the reach out and love you still.

    I know you will rock this event with you warmth and talented ability to help and serve.

    Thanks for all you do!


  7. Connie Curtis

    I understand about worrying about these things. I have to say business cards. I would have some simple ones. Its good to be able to hand those out. I wouldn’t worry about the height, freckles or things like that. No one is going to be worrying about it. They will be worried about themselves. Your perfect and beautiful.

    Don’t sweat the small stuff. I suggest taking water but I take my own water bottle because I won’t drink out of plastic for health reasons. You are the expert and where that hat. I can tell you when you put that hat on it will be a piece of cake. I live in Austin and I don’t know if you will be in Houston. I do hit there sometimes I would love to meet you.

    Be you and thats it your the expert.:)

    I have a talk this weekend so I can relate. I am going over my talk. I know this stuff but at the same time I am afraid I will go blank when I start talking. :) I know if I am being the expert and powerful. I will give great information and they will be excited that they came and to work with me and start following me. I am telling myself as you right now.

    So far its been a cloudy wet spring in TX. I miss the sun. :)


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thank you, Connie! I hope you have a great time at the event this weekend :)

  8. Lisa Joiner

    Hi Nikki,

    I think you got great tips from both Nathalie and Rebecca. I find if you stay present and follow your instincts you’ll connect with those folks your supposed to connect with, having said that I also have certain folks I want to meet so I try and find an opportunity to do that.

    Try to go in the room a little early (if possible) and get the lay of the land so to speak. That way you’re comfortable and grounded with the environs. Bring something with you that will be a touchstone. It will be a whirlwind and your head will be spinning with so much information and energy.

    Business cards are important and I do make notes on them. I also put them in my badge holder and then at the end of the day I go through, make more notes and put them in my organizer. Yes, I’m old fashioned and still carry one of those.

    I find these event exhilarating and exhausting so make sure at the end of the day you give yourself time to wind down and process all that happened. Take a hot shower (or bath) and journal (or however you process) and then let it all go. Otherwise, I tend to feel like I have energy cooties all night and I don’t sleep very well.

    The surprising discoveries of how tall you really are, the freckles etc that’s the fun part of meeting someone in person. Remember, not everyone will like us (I can’t imagine someone not liking you actually), but I’ve also found that some people are meant to only be “online” or “phone” buddies while others are absolutely face to face friends.

    Relax and let it unfold. Allow time for some impromptu fun. You will absolutely rock this. I can’t wait to hear all about please!

    The name game…I’m with just asking. It makes it so much easier and less awkward.

    Wish I could be there with you all. It sounds like a blast. Maybe next year.


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      ENERGY COOTIES! So good, Lisa. This advice is golden. Thank you for taking time to share it!

      Feels like a digi-hug :)

      1. Lisa Joiner

        My pleasure! Glad I could make you smile (because you make me smile all the time!) and give those digi-hugs.

        PS. You’ll know the Energy Cooties when you feel them.

  9. Melinda

    1. Pace yourself.
    2. Plan alone time throughout the day to regroup and manage overwhelm–a cup of coffee by yourself is all it will take.
    3. Take a digital recorder (not your phone) you can pull out and record things / people you want to remeber on the fly at the press of a button.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Great idea with the audio notes, Melinda! I’m a big fan of those.

      Thank you for sharing <3

  10. Yvonne Radley

    Hi Nikki

    I am hoping to be there in May and would love to do a quick video interview with you for my audience here in the UK. I was recently at the Social Media Marketing World Conference in San Diego and had the joy of meeting and interviewing Jon Loomer.

    Best tips – carry a cardigan because it can get cold in air conditioned rooms – get business cards from Moo, I never use them but gave loads out in San Diego and connected with people. Definitely carry water as the water urns sometimes run out. For me I always wear my comfiest shoes too, nothing worse than having sore feet at these events.

    Make the most of your time with back to back meetings and rest up when you get home – hustle hustle hustle.

    And finally, I am a speaker at Fit Pro Convention at the Excel in London annually, and I find the best thing is just to be yourself. I always try to wow the crowd in the first 5 mins and then they love everything else that follows.

    Yvonne x

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks for all this, Yvonne!

      Comfy shoes that still make me *feel* cute…that may be the biggest challenge of all :P

  11. Michele

    Good morning Nikki! Loved your video:) I just got back a couple of weeks ago from a major live event (Bill Baren’s The Big Shift > amazing by the way…), with 750 or so folks from across the US and as far as Australia, Singapore, you get picture.

    I love the comments above from others about trusting you’ll meet who you’re meant to meet, lest you go nutty trying to meet everyone. Without lifting a finger, the moment I got to the hotel, I fell into a wonderful conversation with a woman I met who was on my shuttle bus from the airport. Later she invited me to sit with her and her husband for a glass of wine, and o how we hit it off! Like two long lost friends! Now, après event, we are supporting each other and are moving forward together in a 12-month mastermind.

    That’s also what happened with my second buddy, who sat next to me and Jeannie (my friend above). David was another dream friend! Again, providence provided, and he’s going into the mastermind too, so we’ll have each other’s support all the way through!

    Lesson? Simply smile, be yourself and be open to gifts from the universe when they land in front of you. All of which is right up your alley:)

    As far as trying to connect with everybody, go with the flow, enjoy how the days unfold, do you best and let what happens, happen.

    Business cards? Yup! So much easier to simply hand somebody your card with your contact info than scrambling to write it down on a slip of paper when they request it. Yah never know who you’re going to meet, and bet there will be oodles of people wanting your card! I have a nice tote bag that I take with me to events > one pocket for received cards, and a little zipper bag for a fresh store of my cards. Love the idea about keeping some cards in your event badge!

    You may wish to email potential “project” partners when you get back; others you may wish to connect via LinkedIn.

    Forgotten/unknown names? Smile and ask! it’s okay! My favorite opener question: “What inspired you to come to XYZ?”

    Otherwise, though I’m a classic introvert who craves plenty of time to myself to ponder, you’d never know it at the event! For 14 hours a day, I enjoyed the heck out of every minute; so worth it because it flies by so fast.

    That being said, I had breakfast early and sat by myself in the dining area, journaling gratitude for the neat things that happened and friends I was making. A wonderful way to process everything that was happening and to ensure I wouldn’t forget the details and impressions >>> plus, some good material there for future blog posts:)

    Tea is my great recharger, so I asked the kindly staff each morning to fill my thermos with hot water, added my favorite tea (from home) and had a pick me up on the fly as needed.

    Food for thought:) and have a WONDERFUL time!!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      YESSS, Michele, this is SO. GOOD! Seriously y’all are blowing me away.

      Love all this simple guidance on how to prepare (physically, energetically, mentally)…

      “Simply smile, be yourself and be open to gifts from the universe when they land in front of you. All of which is right up your alley:)”

      Thank you for taking time to leave this super-thoughtful comment – and YAY for your new biz buddies!

  12. Tamsen

    You’re going to have so much fun!!!

    Business cards — I always take a different approach on these. Here’s what I suggest – make a simple one from (the tiny size) and decide on a day over the summer that could the OTC “bonus” chat, set up that link ahead of time, and put that on the back of the card. That way you’ve already got another chance to connect with everyone that was there at a time that’s special for them. And when they go to the link you also have an opportunity to share any other information you’d like them to have.

    Something like … “We’re not done talking … let’s chat again

    I take the approach that the card needs to do something :) And at events like this – it’s the perfect opportunity to schedule a meet-up ahead of time and give everyone something to look forward to.

    Style– comfortable shoes :) And I use a wristlet wallet ( has some really cool ones that have enough room to hold all the cards that I need but also an easy way to put others’ business cards into and still look stylish :)

    Have fun!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      LOVE the idea of a premeditated reunion!!! Genius, Tams. Genius.

      Thanks, buddy :)

    2. Deborah Hodge

      Tamsen – LOVE the idea of scheduling a follow-up chat a month or so down the line – brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Sage Hobbs


    I totally feel you on the nerves. I’ve been wondering who I’ll have meals with (since I don’t know anyone beyond cyber connections!) It’s the little things…

    Already SO much genius advice here that I don’t have much to add… Except:
    1) I’m super pumped to hear you speak and meet you at OTC!
    2) Let it be fun! Yes, it’s business. AND, it’s a room full of inspiring women (mostly), many of whom already adore you. So, I hope to take some deep breaths and simply enjoy.
    3) You are a master of authenticity. Whenever in doubt, trust your gut and be yourself.
    4) Yes, business cards. Always best to be prepared to hand something to your new groupies :)
    5) Eat, sleep, drink water, and move. The basics.
    6) You don’t have to meet everyone. There will be enough time to love up your buddies and make sweet new connections.
    7) Rock that s**t! You are amazing, so just bring YOU.
    p.s. One more embarrassing truth: I was the livingroom-dance-party-mama in the ACAC FB open house talent show :) I plan to put on a little Uptown Funk in my room to pump myself up and release my nerves!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Sage you must be CUHRAZY if you think I don’t know exactly who you are, sister.

      LOVED your talent show with the little ones!

      Thanks for the tips + encouragement and woop – can’t wait to enjoy dance breaks with you :)

  14. Bree

    In person events are not my favorite thing, but I push myself to do them because I need to get out of my house every now and again.

    My biggest piece of advice is to talk to the poor girl standing by herself in the corner of the room or at the table by herself. (Usually this girl is me.) It is really nice to make everyone feel included.

  15. Carisa

    First, you are going to be fabulous! I know it’s a bit nervy, but you have such a great message and you are beautiful at connecting, so you will be fantastic. Second, the thing is that you are getting an important message to people who ABSOLUTELY need you! So, in a way it isn’t even really about you, it’s about the larger work you are here to do and you being a vessel for it. And last, take from the advice that everyone has been giving you (because it’s all great and very practical), but HAVE FUN. You get to share things people need to know with a group that WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU. You are set, girl! And you got this. :)

  16. Deborah Hodge

    Hi Nikki – You’ve already received lots of great advice, so I’ll try not to repeat anything anyone else has said, but offer additions.

    Regarding Business cards: while it is easy to store yours on the day of the event in your event badge, there probably won’t be room in there for your cards AND the cards of the folks you’ll be meeting. It would be great to have a card holder, 1) on the way to the conference it keeps your cards from getting creased/bent/dirty, AND even if you decide to put YOUR cards in your event badge, 2) when you take someone else’s card, 1st take a couple moments to LOOK at their card, and make a nice comment if possible, THEN put their card in your card case – that communicates that their card (and by extension, they themselves) are important to you. It’s just a nice expression of respect. After they walk away, you can take it out again to make a note re: response, or personal details, and then put it back in the case. ( is great – you can use one of their designs and/or to add your own personal spin, you can have one of your tips printed on the back, or a call to action i.e. “Ready to attract more dream clients?”, or “I’ll help you make a statement {or tell your story}. Literally.” Regarding what info to put on your business card, I think your name, and maybe your state, as that might spark a conversation, and of course, your web address.)

    Also, if they give you a name-tag, remember to put it on your right shoulder area, not your left. The reason for this is, as someone is shaking your right hand, their field of vision is your right side – they are already looking there. If they have to look to your left side to find your name tag, it breaks the eye contact and flow of communication.

    I definitely agree with what others have said re: spending time with folks. If you have a common group that you would like to get together with, it would be great if you have time in your schedule to plan a short get together – away from the conference (to cut down on interruptions) – with definitive start and end times, to conserve your energy. Try to meet with personal friends at mealtimes, and prioritize – you may not be able to see everyone on this trip! Let friends down easily be letting them know that they are a priority, and want to set aside better chunk of time to see them on your next visit. You have a lovely personality on the web, and if you focus just on the one person you are speaking with at any one time, I’m sure you will do fine. Follow your own advice: “Ask questions – show a genuine interest.” And in addition to other questions that have been suggested, at business conferences I always like to ask people “What’s keeping you up at night, right now?”, or “What are you most passionate about right now?”

    Regarding clothing, wear what makes you feel fabulous, and of course is in line with the conference – a business suit at a yoga conference might not be the best choice.

    You’re going to do great! Wish I lived in Texas and could come see you in person!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Great tips, Deborah! Thanks for taking time to share :)

  17. Gracie Ruth

    Hi Nikki! I am also going to OTC. It is going to be my first time in Dallas Texas and I am very excited! You are vety well known by now. So, you should not worry about having business cards. (I have business cards because I am still working on getting my name and business out to the world) be yourself at the event. If you don’t know someone’s name, it is ok to ask. (I am bad at remembering people’s names) take a bottle of water with you. (Even if there is water on the table at the event. Take lots of business casual and comty clothes as well as some flat shoes. (You just nevet know when you need a break from the high heel) Nikki, you are Not short, girl! You are just fine. (I am short… Shhhh…don’t tell anyone but, I sm 4:11 & 1/2 just a but short of 5 feet) lol! I would say take a hand bag that holds a lot and at the same time is easy to carry with you. Smile and be the same beautiful, down to earth girl!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Ha! At this rate I don’t know that I’ll even get to the “order business cards” part on my list in time, but I sure want to so I don’t have to scribble my info on napkins and scraps when the opportunity arises :P

      SO excited to meet you in person, Gracie! #selfietime

  18. Cathy

    Great bunch of advice here, Nikki. I’ll definitely be reading through more thoroughly before heading to Dallas next month.

    Only thing I wanted to remind you of, to loosely quote the Bridget Jones’ Diary (movie): “To Nikki, who we love just as she is.”

    1. Cathy

      PS May I remind you of the blog post you helped me edit 2 years ago: How Writing a Blog is Like Packing a Suitcase. In this case it would be the reverse…:-)

  19. Sue Bates

    I just read your post on your first yr, it was so helpful and inspiring:) and fun! I will be at off the charts, my first live event too…It will be so nice to meet you:)

  20. Heather Allen

    Hi Nikki,

    I just watched your pre-OTC questions video, and oh boy! I love that you threw in the wedding receiving line example because I just experienced that firsthand a week-and-a-half ago. My cheeks hurt so bad at the end of the night from smiling, talking to 225 people and exerting a huge dose of energy :-)

    From what I’ve read, you’ve already received great tips on how not to overexert yourself by attempting to connect with EVERYONE! (Nathalie Doremieux’s advice is very good) But it also sounds like you have a lot of folks to connect with while you’re in Dallas! You’re going to have a blast.

    This will be my first OTC event as an attendee, but I have spoken at a lot of events—I was the keynote for a Southeastern Arts conference this past February (first time doing that!). Like you, I work from home and when I’m lose my “out and about social butterfly” momentum, it takes a little while to feel comfortable with stepping back into it. I think the best way to move forward with purpose and without jitters is to do three things:

    1. Know the essence of what you want to share
    2. Tap into the audience
    3. Share from the heart

    I’m new to your work but love the open, community-oriented message you share. I’m also a part-time college educator, like you. I’ll be at the VIP event on Friday and very much look forward to meeting you (I’m a 5′-5″ brunette from good ‘ol Raleigh NC!).

    See you soon!


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks so much for this, Heather! What a fun weekend we had :)

  21. Marsha from

    Nikki Nikki Nikki!!

    For some reason I’ve ONLY JUST seen this! Thank you SO much for all the links.
    And, before I give some answers (skidding in under the closing drawbridge) to your Q’s, may I just say again how sad I am that I’m in the UK for a wedding – ANYTHING ELSE would have been cancelled so I could come and see you!!

    Here my thoughts on those Q’s:

    **How do you make the MOST of the opportunity to connect with so many people – without a) getting totally overwhelmed, or b) missing out on rare quality time with your best buddies?**

    If possible, set aside one-on-ones with the besties (and have them far away from everyone else)
    For others: do group hangouts!
    And re the overwhelm: build in little introvert breaks. I usually take them in a washroom stall, but a tiny walk alone around the block can work, too.

    **How do you gracefully handle that awkward moment when someone knows your name and you don’t know theirs (yet)?**

    I’ve had this a lot throughout my career, and I’ve realised two methods:
    (1) Just ask them. If you say, “I’m sorry, what was your name again?” they’re actually thrilled that you care enough, or
    (2) PRO TIP: Pretend to introduce them to someone who’s name you DO know – but WITHOUT SAYING THE NEW PERSON’S NAME. like this,
    “Have you met Marsha…..?” – and then Marsha does the work of asking the new person’s name and you get to listen!

    **How do you functionally DRESS for events like this? Layers? Pockets? Fanny packs? Handbags?**
    I’m a big fan of dresses with pockets, but you can often put business cards in your nametag pouch

    **What do you PACK in aforementioned handbag? ^^^**
    Chapstick. Maybe kleenex if your nose runs as much as mine does, and business cards if you have them, but they’re TRULY not that important – as long as you have a pen and a little notebook of some sort.

    **Business cards – yay or nay? What do you DO with them when people give ’em to you? What do you include on yours to make it worthwhile?**

    I think it’s fine not to, but I like them. Once someone gives them to you, if you can, as soon as they’ve parted, scribble on the back what you talked about, and maybe what they look like.

    **Anything else that I’m missing?**

    I think you covered them with above links :) Mostly: remember almost everyone’s a bit nervous, and DO give yourself little breaks.
    ooh, also: addendum to getting out of an awkward convo: if someone’s talking a lot, it’s ok to say, “I’m really enjoying this conversation, but I promised myself I’d speak to a few different people today, so can we pick this up over email?”

    HAVE FUN!! I wish I was there so much! I’ve sent two of my Toronto envoys, Nadine and Jo-Ann, and told them to give you LOADS of my love!!


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Love all of the above, especially the hugs I got from Nadine and Jo-Ann on day one! :)

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