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Welcome to the voxgig newsletter for tech speakers, 15 June 2018

No matter how much we prepare, problems happen. Often, the situation is out of our control. We’ve all been there, watching a speaker flap about when the A/V fails. That awkward silence grows to heavy whispers—I know, I’ve been that soldier. 

The unexpected can shake the most experienced speakers amongst us. While these mishaps are unavoidable, by building a connection with your audience, you will have them on your side when something goes wrong. They will overlook our nerves, they will forgive us if we lose our train of thought, and they will help resolve the problem. Sometimes, the mishap is so damn funny that you can do nothing but just have a good laugh at yourself. This builds empathy with the audience, gives you time to recover and to turn that negative into one hell of a positive. 

This week, we have curated some epic mishaps for you. We give a couple of examples of how the speaker recovered to totally own their (seemingly) unfortunate moment.

Wardrobe malfunction

“Many years ago, I was standing in front of an audience from the construction industry when my skirt fell off. You can’t make this stuff up. I had a silk skirt on and the button had fallen off that morning when I was in a rush out the door. So I snapped the zipper down and figured I’d be good to go…”
Joan Lloyd

Warning: trip hazard

“When I was introduced, I grabbed my cards, began walking up the three steps to the stage. I clumsily tripped and my cards went flying everywhere.  There was some nervous laughter in the audience as the professor and I gathered my 23 cards. To my horror, I realized I had failed to number them!
I took my place at the podium, steeled my nerves and began with, “Lesson Number 1 of ‘How to give an effective presentation’: make sure to number your notecards!”  Everyone relaxed and we all laughed.  I then threw the cards on the floor and began my presentation with “Lesson number 2: rehearse and know your subject matter so cards are unnecessary!”

I ain’t got the power

“Make light of the situation and reboot: in the middle of a two-hour presentation to 20 executives at John Deere, we lost power.  The laptop wasn’t plugged into a power source. I was mid-sentence when the screen faded to black, and as I paused, it was abundantly clear to everyone in the room what had just happened. I simply indicated that we were half way through our presentation and wanted to pause for 10 minutes of Q&A prior to presenting the next portion of the pitch.  The room actually laughed (acknowledging my tap dancing) and it worked.  We did a brief Q&A and were up and running again in no time. We won that business!”
Ryan Estis

Always know when to switch off your mic

“I was doing a day-long workshop with about 75 people. During the morning break, I went to the men’s room. This is how I learned to turn my lapel mic OFF before using the restroom, because this time I didn’t. I came back into the room to a standing ovation and someone told me what had happened. All I could think to do with me and my red face was to take a bow.”
Jeff Herring




Speaker Profile

Colin Robertson standing on red TED dot at Ted event he's wearing a pair of grey trousers and pake grey shirt. Smiling at what's going wrong with hes presentation

A TED speaker’s worst nightmare
Colin Robertson

Colin Robertson is a passionate solar energy entrepreneur who encounters some problems with his presentation. Watch as he makes his way through his three-minute talk to present something completely different than what was expected. A bit of humour, a bit of a disaster, and a bit of a laugh…it’s entertaining to say the least!

Learn from the Best

image of computer screen showing Chrome in the search bar and below it, "Microsoft Edge is the faster, safer browser on Windows 10

Microsoft presenter installs Chrome during presentation

When things go wrong there are a few things you can do: you can panic or you can get on with your presentation as best you can.  I love the irony in this video, and not just because of what happened; on the screen before it goes to Chrome, “Microsoft Edge is the faster safer browser on windows 10”.
I think the speaker handled this perfectly by making a joke about not making Google better.

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 aspects of conference speaking  you would like me to focus on. 

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

Book cover, Confessions of a public speaker. The speaker is sitting on the floor looking up at the speaker lelctern. it emphasises the intimidation of the lectern


We love to be able to laugh at ourselves when things don’t go according to plan. This book is full of personal, real-life disasters, delivered with a great sense of humour.  Definitely a book you will enjoy if you are new to public speaking. It’s reassuring that even the experts don’t get it right all the time.

Scott Berkun

Blog Post

Tech conference bloopers: 7 stories of snafus and slip-ups
JR Raphael

Onstage falls, wardrobe malfunctions, and romantic disasters—cue our real-life blooper reel from tech conferences around the world.




Three Conferences


MongoDB World 2018

MongoDB World 2018

The largest gathering of the MongoDB community takes place over two days in New York City. Connect, find inspiration, and explore how data is transforming everything you do. Your next question will be what will you do when the conference is over? New York won’t disappoint!



Infiniteconf 2018

Infiniteconf 2018

If your into Big Data, AI and Data Science, then Infiniteconf 2018 is just for you! And that’s just the beginning. Topics cover cluster-computing, machine learning, IoT and more. You’ll learn how to use the amazing technologies, practical tools and methods available to data scientists and engineering teams while networking with your peers. Hello London!


Java Cloud Conference

Java Cloud Conference

The Java Cloud conference covers two separate dates and South Africa locations: first in Johannesburg (11-13 July) and then in Cape Town (18-20 July), so you have two chances to attend! Catch local and international speakers covering Java, microservices and DevOps and meet up with your fellow Java enthusiasts.




CFP Calendar

These are the CFP deadline dates and submission pages.

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.

To find out more follow the links below.

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

London, UK – Tuesday September 25, 2018 | More Details




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!