Thursday, January 11, 2018

9 ideas to mix up your speaking in 2018

(Editor' s note: Reader and client Cate Huston-- an engineer, frequent speaker, and enthusiastic booster of getting more women in tech to speak-- offered this guest post sharing ways to switch it up when preparing talks as inspiration for you early in the new year. Thanks, Cate!)

Public speaking is scary, so it’s easy to get set in what we know works. This year, challenge yourself to mix it up! Not everything will work, but that’s okay - if we don’t try, we never know.

  1. Slides. Mix up your slide style! Try a totally different format, work with someone else to create them, or go without. 
  2. Format. Is your sweet spot 20 minutes? Challenge yourself to a 40 minute slot. Do you always rely on having a lot of time? See if you can give as good a talk in 20 minutes - or 5. Run a workshop! Co-present!  Or try something like Pecha Kucha or Ignite - the 5 minutes and auto-advance can be really tough!
  3. Role. Always the panelist, never the moderator? This could be the year. If you’ve never done it before, look for the opportunity to host or MC - it’s a very different experience.
  4. Topic. Maybe you’ve been giving “soft” talks - why not get really technical? Maybe technical talks seem safer, but why not challenge yourself to go beyond details - give a high level overview, or talk about a different interest or part of your role.
  5. Audience. Maybe you always talk at mobile, or PHP events - branch out and find a new audience at an event with a different theme! Maybe you present a lot internally - branch out and give a talk outside.
  6. Preparation style. Do you have a series of rituals when it comes to preparing a talk? A process involving sticky notes and weeks of preparation? Challenge yourself with a compressed timeframe or different approach (blog posts?) If finishing slides on the plane is part of your MO, challenge yourself to slide-freeze a week in advance. Things like a practise run at your company or a local meetup can force you out of the last minute preparation trap.
  7. Medium. Be a guest on a podcast (great way to extemporaneous speaking!), or record something straight to video (my video tip is this: practise without recording until you’re comfortable, then record when you’re ready. This has taken me from 20+ takes to 2). Speaking doesn’t just mean from stage.
  8. Constraints. You don’t have to agree to everything - decide what’s important to you and prioritize that - embrace constraints. Or, evaluate your internal constraints, if your gremlin is saying things like “I’m not ready to give an international talk”, you don’t have to listen to it!
  9. Social media. Schedule live tweets during your talk, or tweet teaser snippets of your prep. Turn your talk into a blog post, or use blog posts to build it up. There’s so many ways to blend your IRL talk with your digital presence.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Patti)

Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, or follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.