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Welcome to the voxgig newsletter for tech speakers, 30 Mar 2018

“Oh the nerves, the nerves; the mysteries of this machine called man! Oh the little that unhinges it, poor creatures that we are!” – Charles Dickens

This week i’d like to introduce the topic of pre-talk nerves and anxiety. I’m sure this topic will make more than one appearance in our newsletter as it is asked about quite often.

The excellent post below was written by Cate Huston and was first published on her blog last June here. Cate is the co-founder of the Technically Speaking newsletter and speaks internationally on mobile development and tech culture. Her writing has featured in The Daily Beast, Lifehacker and Be Leaderly to name but a few.

You can find Cate on Twitter, on her blog and on Medium.

Speaking and Nerves

I just gave my third talk of the year, so this marks the half way point as I will do 6 events, total. This included my first opening keynote, and the largest audience I have spoken in front of yet (>700). Now I have a break until September. It seems like a good time to talk about pre-talk anxiety.

Spoiler: I still get it, bad.

I rarely sleep well before a talk. If I speak in the afternoon, I can never eat lunch. When I spoke in the morning it felt like I had a fun choice between vomiting and keeling over on stage (actually neither of these things happened…)

How do I deal with it?

  • First, I try and embrace it as a positive thing.

  • Second, I try to channel it productively.

  • Third, I try and mitigate things that have the potential to derail me.

So… how can anxiety be a positive thing? Well I don’t get anxious about things I don’t care about. I get anxious about giving a talk because I care a lot about giving a good talk. At most events I find someone who frankly I think should be a lot more anxious about what they are doing than they seemed to be. Maybe they didn’t think through their jokes, or changed something in one part of their talk without thinking about the rest of it, or maybe they just didn’t prepare enough.

How can anxiety be productive? When I’m worrying about a talk I’m giving I have two main options. One: I can hide from that anxiety in something else (aka procrastinate). Two: I can spend time preparing it. I always try to choose option two (I’m human, so sometimes I choose option 1, and then I at least try to embrace productive procrastination). One thing that can happen with this though is, preparing too much or too intensely (normally a lot of low value preparation) such that I start to hate my own talk.

How do you mitigate surprises? Through trial and error I’ve discovered some things that throw me off. I don’t take flights that get in late anymore, because when they get delayed a morning talk is a horrible thing. I always check the hotel before I arrive, because it sucks to arrive and discover it’s horrible. I aim to arrive at the venue with plenty of time to check the AV set up just so I know what I’m getting. I keep my slides in the cloud but make sure they are there on my machine too.

I throw money at things that will result in lower stress levels. Things I have done recently for talks I’m giving: upgraded flights because I was flying non-Star Alliance and I wanted a lounge and space to think. Booked an expensive hotel – I discovered the day before I was giving a talk that I was booked into a terrible hotel far from the venue, so I just booked another one instead. This kind of thing makes speaking more expensive, but it also makes it possible. If I let myself get so stressed out and miserable I would probably perform badly and decide I never wanted to speak again. It’s better (for me) and affordable (for me) to manage my stress levels by ensuring my required level of comfort is met (or exceeded). Of course for some events this is a given from the organisers, and occasionally a bunch of hassle for me and I never have to do those events again.

It feels scary to come out and say that public speaking terrifies me (although I have done this before). But I hate hearing from people who think their fear rules them out in some way, rather than makes them human. Speak, or don’t – I believe in choices, not pushing anyone into anything. But fear is not failure, it’s just information – and very, very normal.

See the original post here.

Speaker Training

Do you speak at conferences? Want to learn how to give the very best talks? Or are you just starting out and want to overcome the fear of speaking on stage?

We are running speaker training workshops in Dublin and London, in Ireland and the U.K. over the coming months.

There is a 10% OFF early bird discount if you book before May 22nd.

To find out more follow the links below.

Public speaking with Lauren Currie

London, UK – Friday June 22, 2018 | More Details

Giving great talks with Russ Miles

Dublin, Ireland – Tuesday July 17, 2018 | More Details

Public speaking with Debbie Forster

London, UK – Thursday October 18, 2018 | More Details

Giving great talks with Russ Miles

Dublin, Ireland – Tuesday September 25, 2018 | More Details




Speaker Profile

Matt Abrahams

No Freaking Speaking: Managing Public Speaking Anxiety [V]
Matt Abrahams

Matt Abrahams is the epitome of calmness. His tone of voice and his delivery display the perfect blend of confidence and poise. Who better to help us overcome our public speaking anxiety right?

Do you have a fear of public speaking, but can talk all day long to casual groups about something you are quite knowledgeable about? Why is that? But more importantly, how do we conquer it? Matt discusses the root of speaking anxiety in this video and gives us the three sources academics identify as underlying causes. Once the causes are known, then we can begin to work on overcoming those fears and sharing what we know with a new crowd.

Learn from the Best

Jill Bolte Taylor

My Stroke of Insight [V]
Jill Bolte Taylor

This is another great example of using effective storytelling in speaking. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist who experienced a severe brain haemorrhage. She tells her story and takes it to another level using a very unique prop. I love how she breaks down the terminology and processes in terms her audience can relate to.

“And when you look at the brain, it’s obvious that the two cerebral cortices are completely separate from one another. For those of you who understand computers, our right hemisphere functions like a parallel processor, while our left hemisphere functions like a serial processor.”

She’s absorbed in the terminology and the processes of her chosen professional constantly, so explaining something to her audience no doubt requires some thought. As you watch this video, you see she does an amazing job at this. I was holding on to her every word to see where her story was going and found myself seeing her story materialise in my minds eye. Quite cool, eh?

Tell me…

 What is your biggest challenge as a tech speaker?

This newsletter is for you. I want it to include hints, tips and strategies that resonate with you.

So go ahead, hit reply and tell me what you find challenging as a speaker. 

Email me at richard@voxgig.com. You can tweet too: @voxgig I will address the most pressing issues in each edition.

Book of the Week

Public Speaking Magic book cover

Public Speaking Magic: Success and Confidence in the First 20 Seconds
Mark DavisTom “Big Al” Schreiter

Simple, practical tips are the easiest to implement. This book is a great quick reference guide for people that may have confidence issues. And yes, it includes advice on how to deal with nerves.

Blog Post

Elon Musk Fails Public Speaking 101
Minda Zetlin

It’s no surprise that his grand plans made headlines around the world. But this speech got attention on social media for a different reason; his awkward delivery. Musk is an unpolished public speaker at the best of times, but in this presentation he seemed more challenged than usual.

Not every talk we do will go perfectly. By preparing well and identifying where things can go wrong we can give it our best shot.




Three Conferences

This week we focus on three conferences in one venue on three different topics. All three conferences take place April 15-17 at The Kraków Opera theatre, where the two-hundred year old tradition of opera carries on. Want some great news?

Buying one ticket gets you access to all three events, providing plenty of opportunities for cross-interest insights. If you like opera, there is a performance taking place the evening of April 15th too, so take a look at the opera website for tickets and performance information!


Data.spehere.it Conference logo

Data.Sphere.it, Kraków, Poland

The event starts with a day of data driven workshops, hackathons and training. On the final day of the conference there will be a series of open meetups, so check out the website for the agenda. Topics cover technical aspects as well as concrete business use cases in data-centric systems and related technologies.


React.spehere.it Conference logo

React.Sphere.it, Kraków, Poland

Day 1 begins with workshops, followed by two days focused on Reactive programing and system design. Over 20 speakers, along with workshops and meetups, make this an opportunity to learn from the best, be inspired by thought leaders, and network with like-minded attendees.


Data.spehere.it Conference logo

Scala.Sphere.it, Kraków, Poland

If you’re interested in hands-on learning, there will be a special two-day workshop prior to the regularly scheduled conference program. This portion of the conference is devoted to important topics related to Scala dev tools for Scala software developers. Take a look at current systems, how they work, and discuss what could be improved.




CFP Calendar

These are the CFP deadline dates and submission pages.

A favour…

Can I ask you for a favour? If you enjoy this newsletter, and if you find it useful, please consider recommending it to a friend who is learning to give technical talks, or who aspires to do so. I meet so many cool programmers who have brilliant things to share with the world—that’s you!

Please help me to improve this newsletter – I’d love to hear your suggestions! You can email me directly at richard@voxgig.com. You can tweet too: @voxgig. Thank you so much for reading!

A special thanks and shout out to TammyCora, and David for helping to make this newsletter even better!