Speaking out – public speaking made easy

Last night I attended Speaking out – public speaking made easy organised by Laura North and Christian Heilmann with David Bell, Katie Streten and Christian speaking. Here are my notes.

David Bell (Merrill Lynch) – Focus on presentation styles and contexts

  • Contexts – style and delivery vary according to type of meeting (small, large, conference) and your role within it (pitching ideas, asking questions).
  • Preparation – the key to being relaxes is to be prepared, focussing on:
    • who your audience is
    • message you want to deliver
    • materials – appropriate slides
    • objective – what is the purpose of the meeting / presentation
  • Style – presentation style determined by:
    • presenters personality
    • audience
    • subject
  • Summary
    • connecting with audience is vital
    • preparation is the key to being relaxed
    • be selective with your material – think big picture
    • your style will develop over time and comes with practice
    • presentations are performances – sometimes they go better than others
    • everyone gets nervous – you aren’t the only one

Katie Streten (Imagination) – Reasons not to like public speaking, and some suggestions for dealing with them

  • Reason 1 – no one will be interested in what I have to say
    • they are there
    • you have been asked to speak
    • think what you can give them
  • Reason 2 – I will go blank
    • prepare – write script long hand
    • read it to people are yourself
    • write card notes
    • highlight key moments
    • don’t practice too much
  • Reason 3 – I’m afraid that everyone will find out that I’m a fraud
    • you’ve been asked to speak
    • everyone thinks this
  • Reason 4 – I will look out over the crowd and freeze
    • don’t look at the crown, pick 3 spots to look at
    • place a friend at the back to smile at you
    • they are more interested in the talk than in you
  • Reason 5 – I will lose my place and stall
    • use card notes
    • practice
    • audience are on your side
    • ‘fess up
  • Reason 6 – I will ask something that everyone else understands
    • most other people are thinking the same thing
    • that’s their problem
    • you are helping someone in the audience
  • Reason 7 – It feels artificial, it should feel like a conversation
    • audience hates it to
    • say ‘Hello’
    • move your arms at waist height
    • don’t have a rigid script
  • Powerpoint
    • bullet points
    • pictures
  • Conclusion
    • people genuinely want to hear what you have to say
    • think about your audience – what can you give them?
    • if all else fails.. try and remember the detail of 1 speech you have heard in your life – no-one can

Christian Heilmann (Yahoo!) – How to inspire as a speaker

Chris has written his own post on the event, which includes a link to his slide deck and video of his presentation.

  • Have a different point of view
  • Find the story that makes the difference
  • Audience and information are more important than the speaker
  • Knowing what the audience needs is the most important part of the presentation
  • Having the right mindset is important – you have nothing to lose
  • How do you get this mindset?
    • know your subject
    • own your talk
    • practice
  • Practice by:
    • loud reading in different character voices
    • listening to audio books
    • listen to yourself
    • Powerpoint Karaoke
    • lightning talks
  • Get inspired by good examples
  • Thinks to avoid
    • imitation
    • reading your slides
    • forgetting the story
    • blinging it up

BarCamp Liverpool – Day Two

Day two of BarCamp Liverpool started with ‘Let’s talk about sex’, an open discussion where, amongst other things Ian Forrester asked if geeks can talk about sex in an mature and adult way. The answer is ‘no’! This was probably the most entertaining part of the BarCamp, but possibly not for the right reasons.

In ‘How to pimp yourself’ Richard Quick talked about how to promote yourself as a freelancer, or as a company. He gave his 7 tips for success, and we then moved on to a discussion which expanded on his ideas. The information doesn’t directly apply to me these days, but there was plenty about how best to behave at conferences to make this a good session for me.

Cristiano Betta then talked about ‘Using wordpress for OpenID’. The WP-OpenID plugin allows you to use your WordPress blog to login to OpenID consumers. We followed this up with a general discussion on OpenID, particularly how to spread its use to the masses.

The last session I attended was ‘Don’t Just Change the World… Improve It!’ from Adrian McEwen. Adrian had returned to Liverpool late in the Capital of Culture year, and he talked about the changes he had seen, and his ideas on how we can make a difference in our communities.

With all that serious business out of the way all that remained was the obligatory game of Werewolf. I’d only played once before, and with a much smaller group, so this was great fun. I was killed while I peacefully slept, but it was almost as much fun to watch.

And with that, my first BarCamp was over. I will be back for more.

BarCamp Liverpool – Day One

I’m waiting for the second day of BarCamp Liverpool, so I thought I’d take the time to write down my thoughts on day one.

I didn’t really know what to expect from a BarCamp, but whatever it was this event wasn’t it! Out of 200 places I guess about 100 people actually turned up, a sizeable number, but a little disappointing event even if you take in to account the inevitable wastage when tickets are free.

First job: book a slot to speak. My chosen subject: accessibility. I thought I’d stick to what I know. I’ll write about how that went in a separate post.

After an introductory speech from the organisers I moved on to a talk about ‘The 3D Web’ from Stephen Clibberly. I have to say I am not convinced by this technology, but it was interesting none the less.

Next, ‘How to be a dead good speaker’ from Phil Winstanley. As I would be speaking for the first time here I though that this would be a good subject for me. Realisation that I had done most of the things I shouldn’t have done in my slides didn’t help with my nerves at all, of course!

‘Readable Perl’ was after lunch (food for 200 people, eaten by 100!). Now I’ve disliked Perl for about 8 years, mostly because I had to work with badly written code. Seeing examples of how nice Perl can be might have changed a little bit, but I think I’ll stick to PHP and Python for now.

‘Getting started with Arduino – How to build a twitter monitoring Alertuino’ by Adrian McEwen has a fairly self explanatory title. Adrian modified a toy laser gun to activate whenever someone made a direct tweet to a particular address. I’m surprised I haven’t heard of Arduinos before. I may have to invest in a kit.

Then little me…

After this I took part in a ‘Privacy open discussion’ led by Alistair MacDonald. 4 of us spent 45 minutes giving our opinions on where the line is between personal and private when we blog, tweet, or otherwise post online.

Finally was a demo of Pacemaker form Ian Forrester. Now, I don’t share Ian’s taste in music, but this session was great fun. The Pacemaker is an impressive bit of kit, I don’t think it is the iPod killer that Ian would like it to be, but it is pretty cool.

And then on to the party. Free drinks courtesy of Microsoft, who also provided prizes for a raffle and startup competition. Their products are not entirely appreciated by an audience that seemed to be primarily Mac and Linux users, but I don’t suppose that is their fault.

And so day one came to an end.

First Post!

After many years of procrastination, I have finally started my first blog.

What it is going to be about remains to be seen, but I suspect I’ll be writing about web development, particularly accessibility and usability, and might include the odd political rant and my views on various human rights issues.

This is a weekend for firsts for me. First blog. First blog post. And also my first BarCamp, which will hopefully involve my first crack at technical public speaking. I’m attending BarCamp Liverpool, the first in the city and billed as the biggest in the UK so far. Post #2 will in all probability be about day 1.