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Discussion on: I'm delivering a tech talk. Any suggestions? 🤷‍♀️💡

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garyroussak profile image
GaryRoussak

Rachel,

Good on you for doing this - I don't know you, of course, but you will be brilliant, I'm sure.

I don't want to mention the technical side of things - I'm sure you have that covered, given that there are probably as many specialisms in software engineering as there are in medicine these days. There's plenty of interest to talk about!

And I also agree with what others have said about humour, realism and telling true stories rather than just reading verbatim from slides -- all good advice.

But I would add one thing which I'm not sure anyone has mentioned specifically. I know from personal experience that it's an important factor whether you are speaking to a roomful of 200 IT people, making a speech at your daughter's wedding, giving a sermon, or hosting a quiz. I've done all of them and, whilst they're all very different, they all need body language and good use of your voice.

It's easy to see when these things are not right. I've sat in a few audiences where I've wished I could just quietly slip out unnoticed.

When a speaker bows his/her head and looks down at the ground sheepishly, it makes it very hard for your audience to take you seriously - and it makes them uncomfortable. There's no need to stare at people 100% of the time -- that's creepy -- but do spend two-thirds of the time engaging with them a smile (which in your terms I guess means looking at a webcam).

Secondly, we all expect our public speakers to have a few nerves - that's inevitable. That may make you want to get through the talk quicker, but please don't -- resist the temptation. It's a great honour to be asked to do something like this, and it can give you a great sense of power and satisfaction. Make a deliberate to slow down and take time over EVERY word. When you rehearse, you may think "Oh I couldn't possibly go that slow" but you'll be surprised: your audience will feel that you are going a bit too quickly! Cover less and say it more slowly - in the words of the old adage: "Leave 'em wanting more!". Doing this will give you even more confidence and come across as being an expert on your subject matter.

Thirdly, use the humanity in your voice. Don't speak in a monotone and, despite what I said in the last paragraph, don't speak at the same rate throughout. Let the pitch of your voice rise and fall, let the volume get louder and quieter and, when there's an exciting bit, its quite right to speed up a little (as long as you remember to slow down again !).

Enjoy !

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rachelagnihotri profile image
Rachel Author

Wow, this is some really useful advice. All my rehearsals, I've been going too quick, but now I know not to do that. Thank you, and I love how you ended your comment with "Enjoy"!