How To Talk Really, Really Good

A presentation at Digital Lincoln in April 2019 in Lincoln, UK by Jessica White

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Title Slide

How To Talk Really, Really Good (and how to get the chance to)

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I don’t know anything that anyone will find interesting

This is a common issue that people face. The struggle to think of something you can talk about well that others will find interesting.

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Nothing is easy until you know it

● It’s easy to dismiss the things you’ve learnt as easy.

Once upon a time you didn’t know the things you take for granted now. Remember the people/blog/workshop/talk you learnt some of this from? Remember how great it was? It wouldn’t have been created if people didn’t talk about the stuff they once found hard, but now dismiss as something “everyone” would know.

It’s easy to not acknowledge how far you’ve come, and how your knowledge could be helpful and interesting to others.

● What do you get excited about?

Go for a coffee or a walk with a friend or colleague. Talk about some of the stuff you’ve been doing or learning. Maybe some of your frustrations.

That thing you couldn’t shut up about - that’s your talk.

● What lessons did you learn / What can be learnt from your experience?

This could be a good lesson “I learnt how to write ABC app in XYZ language” or a bad lesson “I now know what happens when you do X which breaks production”.

What did you learn? How can other people benefit from these lessons?

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But you could also learn something new...

THIS IS NOT FOR EVERYONE:

● Some people find fear a great motivator

Want to learn about something? Submit it as a talk topic for an upcoming conference. You’ll have to learn it to speak about it.

● But remember: You must be prepared enough for questions. Learning content takes time.

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But why would anyone care what I have to say?

Writing a Biography

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Bio

● Who are you

Name, what you do.

● What’s your experience in this area?

Show your credentials for speaking on this topic. It’s fine to say “I am a front end developer who is eager to learn new frameworks”. You don’t have to be an expert.

● Something fun

Something to make it possible for people to come up and say hi. I use “I am easily bribed with coffee” because then people can come up and offer to buy me a coffee to start chatting. I talk about my past life as a neuroscientist, to show I’m human and have made some funky decisions.

● Like these facts will change over time so will your bio

● … and try to frame this information so it’s relevant to the meetup/conference/talk topic.

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Bio Example One.

For a talk that is technical, or at a technically focused conference, I will edit my bio to focus on my more technical interests and achievements.

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Bio Example Two

If I’m talking about community building or diversity, my bio is changed to suit this topic. I focus on the events I’ve helped run.

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How do I write the description of the talk

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Be Clear

● Purpose

Why are you giving this talk? What is it about?

● Grammar

Get people to check your work or use tools like Grammarly.

● Plain English

Avoid jargon, acronyms or slang. (See resources for links)

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Why will people care?

● How is the talk useful?

What is this talks purpose and are there any takeaways?

● Who is it useful to?

What level, disciplines etc?

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How is it different?

● What makes this different from the other talks?

What makes your talk stand out from the competing talks on the same topic? Do you have a unique view point or experience? Are you using a hook like your talk is based on scenes from Jurrasic Park?

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What value do you add?

● Will your audience take anything from this talk?

Will they want to go away and change their process or try that new framework?

● Can it be applied or is it just entertainment?

It can be both applied and entertaining, but theres nothing wrong with talks that cant be applied.

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The Proposal Structure

● Hook & what problem are you solving solving. ● Briefly, what does the talk include? ● Who is it useful for & last hook.

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But what about writing and doing the talk?!

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● Don’t worry about writing the talk until it’s accepted

Write a few abstracts, send them in, write the talk (if any) that are selected. It’s a lot of work to write a talk.

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Mentorship

Find a mentor. This could be at work, on social media, using HelpMeAbstract or otherwise.

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Workshop

Attend a speaking workshop or a confidence building workshop. Learn in a setting that isn’t as intimidating as a large audience

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I’ve submitted! What’s next?

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Clear points

● Write out what you want to cover ● Can you clearly talk about all the material in the time you have? ● Do you need more/less depth in any areas? Consider your time limits and how much content you are excpecting your audience to retain.

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Thinking about flow

● Organise your thoughts ● Story telling technique (see resources) ● Do all your points make sense and fit?

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Accessibility

● Capitalisation & dyslexia

Full caps aren’t friendly to some dyslexics. Use sentence casing.

● Make your slides and notes available online

Some people may want to print them out or read the content using a screen reader.

● Not too much text

People will be reading rather than listening, and you may use your slides as a crutch - reading off them. This isn’t great for anyone.

● Colour Blindness

Test your slides using a colourblindness tool to make sure all your attendees can see.

● Language

Keep your language clean and non-sexualised. Swearing and sexualised language can alienenate your audience.

Don’t slag off tech, discplines, jobs. Stay neutral.

● Don’t use looping gifs

They are very distracting.

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Rehearse

● Rehearse the full thing

See if the pacing and flow is right. Find out which bits you struggle on.

● Rehearse the bits you falter on individually

These will be the bits you don’t like to rehearse - but need to.

● Cut back on your notes

The fewer notes you have, the less likely you are to panic when you miss your place or a point. The less likely you will be reading as well - which is a better opportunity to tak to your audience.

● Timing and pacing tricks

I like to have an image on every “10th minute” slide. That way I can check against my timer to see if I’m going through my content too fast or too slow.

Some people pace themselves with movement. Move. Stop. Speak. Repeat.

● Do what’s right for you.

This is what I do - it’s not right for everyone. If it suits you practice at work, infront of friends, in the bath. Maybe record yourself talking and listen to it. Draw out your content. There are many ways to retain the information

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But why put in the effort?

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Little acts of rebellion lead to greatness

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Building it up

If you don’t want to leap in, do lots of tiny acts to rebel against your fear:

● Asking a question at an event ● Asking the first question at an event ● Attending events ● Volunteering ● Talk at a meetup ● Talk at a conference

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Travel the world

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Little things have lead to a lot.

Not only will you get opportunities, but you’ll be more effective at work. You’ll learn to communicate complex ideas in a simple way. You’ll learn to talk infront and too a variety of people.

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Make friends

Meet like minded nerds who like the same stuff as you.

GRAPH FRIENDS!

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Challenge yourself & learn

It’s scary because it’s challenging. It’s challenging because it’s new and stretches you.

Think of how much you can grow from that.

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Make your CV shine

It shows a clear skillset that is sometimes hard to demonstrate.

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Want more? Check out our conference.

Sponsor. Read the blog. Contribute. Attend.

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See you there!

Talk to us on Twitter:

  • @dddeastmidlands
  • @JessPWhite
  • @allmobro

Or by email:

sponsor@dddeastmidlands.com jessica@dddeastmidlands.com moreton@dddeastmidlands.com