Advice for First-time or Aspiring Speakers


Back in April of this year, I had the opportunity to present at the Global Azure Bootcamp.  It was a great experience and my first time ever doing a Technical presentation.  To be honest, there was a time I could not see myself standing before an audience and delivering a presentation. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.  If you are considering being a speaker or preparing to deliver your first talk, perhaps these tips can be of some benefit to you.

Your Topic
It’s important to choose a topic that you care about, instead of something you think other people care about.  How you feel about your topic will have an affect on your preparation and performance. Full disclosure: I initially chose a topic because I thought it was cool or “sexy”. I knew enough about the subject to present on it, but I found myself lacking motivation to prepare for it. So I decided to speak about something that resonated with me. Once I did that, I became motivated and putting together my presentation became effortless. Additionally, talking about something you care about enhances your performance. If you love your topic, you’ll feel better while speaking. And if you feel better, you perform better.

To Err is Human
You will make mistakes; I guarantee it.  No matter how much preparation you undergo, you will either overlook something you intended to mention, have technical issues, stumble over an explanation or experience some type of screw up. Murphy’s Law ( what can go wrong, will go wrong) will be in full affect. But prepare yourself in advance by accepting the fact that you will mess up somehow and it’s OK. Also, there’s no one in the audience waiting to blast you with tomatoes or commenting on Social media about how stupid you are (the latter may be true, but who cares). But seriously, what I discovered is that no one cared about my mistakes more than I did. And some of my mistakes were only noticed by me and my inner Imposter. So remember, just relax and keep it moving when you commit an error.

Anyone Can Do It
I used to believe that speaking is for experts only…WRONG! You don’t have to be among the most knowledgeable people on a particular subject in order to be a speaker.  No matter your skill level or degree of knowledge, you can give a talk. Speaking is simply an exercise in sharing what you know based on your experience. This also holds true for blogging or any other medium of knowledge transfer.  So to use a popular phrase, “Just Do It”.

Don’t Shortchange Yourself
Too often we minimize the value of our experience and knowledge, particularly if you’re in the beginning stages of learning a technology. Don’t short change yourself. There’s always someone out there who knows less than you and can benefit from what you’ve learned. Even people who are more informed than you can get some value from what you know, what you’ve done and how you did it.  Each person’s experience is unique. They way you went about configuring something or resolving a problem, can be very insightful.  Also, how you explain something is special to you and can be a factor in someone understanding a subject that they previously struggled to understand.

Here’s the bottom-line:  if I can do it, so can you. Don’t let the fear of failure or the belief that you aren’t good enough, prevent you from taking a step forward in a direction that can have a monumental impact on your career or personal life.  More importantly, you have the potential to make an impact on the lives or careers of others.





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