re: I'm Scott Hanselman, ask me anything! VIEW POST


How do you prepare for a brand new talk? Any specific routines you run through leading up to/day of?


I did a video on preparing for a new talk from scratch here if you have a PluralSight sub or want a trial: pluralsight.com/courses/hanselman-....

I start with the number of minutes I'm trying to fill. So if it's a 30 min talk, I figure I need 6 five minute points. Then I think "what can I show that's interesting for five minutes?" Then I get my half dozen demos/points/concepts, and I move them around/reorder them into a story arc. I try to put myself in the head of the watcher/listener/attendee...figure after each demo they will say "So what?" so your next point or demo should answer that question.


How do you mentally prepare (ie. any speaking anxiety)?

I know some people practice the talk in front of anyone who will listen, while other people feel way more comfortable not practicing because the first time feels more 'authentic'.

And some people need specific things to help ground them -- like...being really careful about what they eat beforehand, etc.

I'm a Type 1 Diabetic so I only eat what I KNOW and what I'm comfortable with, for sure. I always sleep well and avoid going to the speaker parties and stuff the day before. Always I focus on the talk, not the stuff around it.

how often do you recycle talks? do you have 3 talks you can give at the drop of a hat and another...5 always brewing? how do you choose which conferences to speak at?

I can't speak for @shanselman , but I've been a Toastmaster for a few years. There's definitely good reasons to have a at least one talk or speech you can give with no preparation. Happens if a speaker drops out unexpectedly or has trouble arriving on time.

Especially as you expand your reach and the types of audiences you talk to, there may be reasons to further develop similar talks on the same topic using bits and pieces from prior talks.

It all depends on whether you think you will focus on a specific topic or concern, or if you just want to have a few talks on separate topics because the audiences you talk to are always different.

I've never spoken at a conference, so I can only suggest go to conferences that have topics that appeal to you or on which you feel you have something to say. Alternatively, if a conference offers you a unique networking opportunity, that could be a consideration.

In summary:

  • Figure out if you want your talks to be focused on a single topic or connected via similar theme.

  • Good idea to have at least one strong talk at the ready that's simple and requires little to no preparation.


This is a great course, it helped me figure out my speaking style. Thanks!

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