Anna Shipman : JFDI

Break into public speaking

23 August 2017

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to work with my excellent colleagues Rosa Fox and Lucy Carey on a series of workshops to help get more underrepresented people in tech into public speaking. Lucy has written an excellent blog post about it including more details about the breakdown of the course.

This is something I’m really interested in. I’ve written before about how to get more women to speak at your conference and shared resources on getting started with conference speaking, so I was really happy to help with it.

You definitely have something interesting to talk about

The main thing that I want people to realise is that everyone has something interesting to speak about (or blog about). Jessica Ivins has written a great post about this. You know a lot of things that other people don’t know and would find interesting.

The topics that came out of the first workshop were many and varied, including a deeper dive into one aspect of a project someone was working on, advice about how to make it as a project manager, developing junior developers (which Emma Beynon went on to give at Brighton Ruby), and a day in the life of business support.

You only need to be a few hours ahead of the audience

We often think we have to be expert in something in order to give a talk about it, but that’s not the case. Even in something deeply technical, you only need to be about three hours ahead of the audience, and in fact the closer you are to their level of understanding, the clearer your talk can be.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that a deadline of a talk is the best way to make sure you really know a subject. The reason I submitted my first conference workshop, Data Visualisations in JavaScript was because I wanted to know how to to do it. It was a lot of work, but I really knew it by the time of the session!

Break into public speaking got lots of interest on the back of Lucy’s post (including international attention!) and the next run of it starts next week. I really look forward to seeing where it goes next.

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