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Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking.....


Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking. The ultimate cliché for those who are accustomed to public speaking.

For me though it was true, it was my first time up on stage, in front of the lights, with an audience I (mostly) didn't know. I was surprised. I was nervous, and I'm not a nervous person. But I really enjoyed it, and I think the audience did too. 

When I look back, these positive points come to mind:
  • The subject matter was something I felt strongly about. I have wrestled with the subject for the past four years and had endured some hard lessons and some great successes, giving me real confidence. It was based on experience and not theory. 
  • Lots (and lots) of practice. Both in my head and out loud. This allowed me to get my timing right, tweak content and most importantly, the talk felt natural. As soon as I started, my brain knew what was up next and how long to spend on area.
  • I went light on the slide content. My previous attempts at speaking had been focused on the slides themselves and reacting to the content on them rather than speaking. However I took a conscious decision to lighten the slides and talk from within.
  • I worked in small chunks, allowing for iterative improvements. Mainly because I built the content on the train on the way to work. Half an hour at a time for both content creation and to practice delivery. Walking away then re-engaging seems to compliment my style.

Maybe I could have improved by:
  • I went big on ideas, then cut down to a small presentation. Maybe I went too large, I built thirty to forty minutes worth of content. After four years with wrestling with the topic I had a lot of ideas! It led to some hard decisions over what to leave out, and a timing horror a couple of days before!
  • I could have done more practice but in front of other humans. My first opportunity to get feedback was on the night itself, when I had a multitude of opportunities to get some real human input before the big night.
  • A little less humour and more message. I intentionally went for a light tone, as I think a lightning talk should have a couple of laughs, but I left afterwards feeling that I may have overdone it. However I won't beat myself up too much for that one.
Plus I didn't wear a hat. Appeared to be a deal breaker....

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