I’m delighted to be offering Make Your Voice Heard: A public-speaking workshop for beginners on June 11, in conjunction with Montreal All-Girl Hack Night. Shopify is sponsoring and hosting at their Old Montreal office. If you’re local, I hope to see some of you there.
Have you considered presenting at an event, but thought you didn’t know enough or felt like an impostor? Does the idea of speaking in front of a group set your knees quivering and your heart racing? Or maybe you’d like to speak, but aren’t sure how to come up with a good idea. During this hands-on session we’ll look at what’s stopping you from speaking – and explore how to move past your fears. We’ll delve into practical techniques for choosing a topic, writing a proposal, crafting presentation content, and making great slides. We’ll also look at common speaker mistakes and handling Q&A sessions.
The workshop aims to give women, non-binary, and other under-indexed people the skills and confidence to submit a talk, whether to a conference or smaller event.
Check out all the details and register.
Check out developer Paul Hudson’s curated collection of tips and advice on preparing and giving talks at tech events. From examples of talk titles and speaker bios to what makes a good slide deck, there’s some solid advice here from an array of experienced speakers. While some of the info is specific to mobile devs, most is much broader. Some of my favourite nuggets involve how to pick a presentation topic, the part that a lot of people – no matter how many talks they’ve given before – can find challenging:
I think a great talk is a talk that only that person can give – something created at the intersection of their passions and experience.
– Cate Huston
The best conference presentations are about something the presenter really cares about – either because it’s something they’ve experienced or because they’re deeply interested in what they’re talking about.
– Ellen Shapiro
Try to connect what you’re saying to real-world experiences. If you have anecdotes, use them. If you have places where you tried and failed, use those. Seeing real code is great, but hearing from your personal experience is often better.
– Paul Hudson
Check out the post.
In this still-relevant post from 2015, digital artist Jer Thorp shares his top three tips learned over nearly two decades of public speaking: from not rehearsing so much that you can’t handle the unexpected, to exploring non-linear narratives, to remembering that the audience wants you to succeed.
Sprinkled with amusing examples, the piece packs seven shorter additional tips at the end.
Hat tip to the fabulous Technically Speaking newsletter for the find.
If you’re looking for a detailed, step-by-step guide to preparing any type of talk, take Present! A Techie’s Guide to Public Speaking for a spin. Co-authored by Californians Poornima Vijayashanker and Karen Catlin, this 280-page book is ideal for anyone new to speaking who’d like a hand getting started, but is particularly geared to those in the tech industry. Present! breaks down the process of planning and giving a presentation into bite-sized chunks and comes with a collection of accompanying online videos and other resources. There are suggested activities to go with most sections, many of which involve making video recordings of yourself and watching them back with a critical eye — something that might make you cringe, but that can reap real benefits.
Present! goes into detail on topics that shorter books on the subject don’t usually broach, like how to promote a talk and even how eject a heckler – something I hope to never have to do! There are sections on how to be a good panelist or an effective moderator, and another on what it takes to bring your speaking skills to a wide audience through a podcast or webinar. There’s even a whole guide to how to make eye contact with the audience in a natural way.
I got to see Poornima and Karen in action while attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing last fall, where they ran a hands-on workshop based on a portion of their book. Their session gave me timely ideas on how to handle larger groups in my own workshops.
Once a year, Poornima and Karen teach an 8-week, online, live course on public speaking called The Confident Communicator Course. They cover many of the tips from the book, along with modules on accent reduction, negotiation, and interview skills. The next course begins on February 13 — check it out if you’re ready to invest in becoming a more confident and skilled public speaker in 2017.
Catt Small, the Etsy product designer who penned a ten-part series on how to become a public speaker in one year, has packaged up all the posts into an ebook, complete with seven worksheets. It’s available through Amazon for Kindle, and if you buy the PDF/ePub version on Gumroad, there’s a discount coupon available for self-identified marginalized people. Nice.
I was invited to give a public-speaking workshop recently by Montreal Girl Geeks, a group with whom I’ve had a long and happy relationship, both as a speaker and attendee. There was only one catch — they asked if I could handle a much larger group than I was used to, since their events are super popular, regularly attracting 50+ signups. (Way to go, Girl Geeks!)
I was slightly trepidatious about the size, but my colleague Tammie Lister — who’d given the same workshop to larger groups before — shared with me some of her strategies, like breaking up into smaller circles for some of the hands-on exercises. A couple of weeks ago I also had the opportunity to attend a very large public-speaking workshop given by the authors of Present! A Techie’s Guide to Public Speaking, which gave me other ideas for handling a big group.
And it went just fine! The workshop was very interactive, and the participants had great ideas on everything from what stops people from speaking to the benefits of forging ahead. They brainstormed their own topic ideas, and each wrote up a pitch for a talk. Some were even inspired to submit their idea to an event as soon as possible!
The evening also felt like coming full circle, since Jill Binder, who co-ran the original speaker workshop for women in Vancouver that inspired this whole endeavour, happened to be in town and helped me with the group. We were very warmly hosted by Azi Vaziri at the Google Montreal office, who even provided food so folks wouldn’t be hungry coming straight to the event after work.
Thank you Montreal Girl Geeks for the opportunity to help a new crop of public speakers get inspired and get speaking!
Amazing sketch notes by Mariève Dorman
Liesl Barrell, Sandy Sidhu, Kathryn Presner, Jill Binder, Leann Brown
Leann Brown, Azi Vaziri of Google, Kathryn Presner, Liesl Barrell
Photos courtesy Montreal Girl Geeks and Jill Binder.
There are a few spaces left for the public-speaking workshop for beginners that I’ll be giving on October 26 through Montreal Girl Geeks. It’s free and taking place at Google Montreal’s downtown office. Advance registration is required. Check it out!