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Welcome to the voxgig newsletter for event speakers July 6th, 2018.

A friend of mine who used to work for a big tech multinational tells a story about a former colleague of hers. This guy, a senior software developer – let’s call him Frank – was asked to give a talk to one of the Marketing teams about the current release of the company’s software.

Frank did an amazing job of the talk. He knew the software inside out. He had diagrams, data, statistics and information in spades.

People were walking out after ten minutes. The talk was the talk of the Marketing team for days afterwards—and not in a good way.

At the end, to a sparse smattering of applause, Frank looked around at the empty seats, bewildered about where he had gone wrong.

Frank had broken the cardinal rule of public speaking: know your audience.

Finding out who your audience is and tailoring your talk accordingly is so important. Yet techie types (I include myself in this) can be so enthused about their knowledge that they forget that it’s not about them. It’s about the audience.

Imagine looking at your subject matter through the lens of a camera. Now zoom out. Keep zooming out until you reach the point where you and your audience share some piece of knowledge or experience. If they have no prior knowledge of the subject matter whatsoever, you’ll need to zoom out a lot. That’s OK.

Let’s go back to poor Frank. If he had been focusing on his audience, he would have zoomed out to the point where he and they had something in common. In his case, this point was the fact that they all worked for the same company and were aware that the company produced software.

So he could have started with a self-deprecating anecdote (we all love hearing about other people’s foolishness) from when he was first working with the company. Or that time when a huge bug was found in a release days before go-live, and everyone in the company had to work extra hours to get the release out on time. Bingo, common ground. Everyone remembers how hard that release was. He would have had the audience on his side from the start.

You may feel reluctant to start your talk on such a general level. We techies love our detail! But remember: it’s not about you. Start with the general, then you can get gradually more specific. State explicitly how each step is related to the one before. That way, you take the audience with you.





Voxgig Podcast

Coming Soon… 

I am delighted to announce that  voxgig is starting a podcast series! The title of the series is ‘Fireside with voxgig’. In each podcast, I’ll be interviewing leading experts from the events industry.  The aim is to deliver high quality insights, valuable public speaking tips and enjoyable personal success stories, all in a relaxed, informal and chatty style. Keep an eye out here for the first podcast in the series, coming soon. 

Speaker Profile

Image of Steven Hoffenson wearing a blue check shirt with small microphone attached to front of his shirt,

Pitching technical ideas to non-technical audiences
Steven Hoffenson

When you are constantly surrounded by tech-speak, it can be easy to forget that anyone outside your particular area of expertise may not understand your message. “Tell me about your work” is a dreaded line for many of us in technical fields, especially when it comes from those outside the engineering discipline. Where do you start? What message are you presenting? Will someone not familiar with the particular tech you are presenting even know what you’re talking about? Steven Hoffenson chats about engaging such audiences and how to share technical ideas with non-techies.

Learn from the Best

Image of Matt Abrahams during his talk, looks like he is emphasising a point.

The importance of knowing your audience and speaking context
Matt Abrahams

These are some great tips to help you construct a talk that is focused on your audience and on their knowledge of and experience with your topic.  An audience that understands your topic will engage with and remember your talk more readily if the focus is on them.

Tell me…

What is your biggest challenge as an event speaker?

This newsletter is for you. I want it to resonate with you.

So go ahead, hit reply, and tell me what you want to read about. Or email me at richard@voxgig.com. You can tweet too: @voxgig.

I’ll address the most pressing issues in each edition.

Book of the Week

Even a geek can speak
Joey Asher

Thanks to Joey Asher, you can ensure that your audience will understand and remember your talk.  Use this book each time you deliver a speech to a non-tech crowd.

Blog Post

Presenting technical information to a non-technical audience

Dave Linehan

People with technical backgrounds, including engineers and scientists, are being challenged more and more frequently to give technical presentations to people outside their field. Giving a presentation to a bunch of techies who have already bought into a project is one thing, but often, we are asked to speak to people with little or no technical expertise, or indeed no background on a project.




Three Conferences


Anxiety Tech

Anxiety Tech

“A better future for mental health & technology.” Join inspiring developers as they learn how to advocate for mental health at work, how technology can be better designed to support mental health, and what technologies already exist to support those with mental illnesses. Held at the beautiful Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, the perfect backdrop to facilitate the discussion at hand.


Scotland CSS

Scotland CSS

A one day conference, with 10 speakers, in the lovely city of Edinburgh – covering all things CSS. A workshop will also be held during the event with a separate ticket. Scotland JS follows the conference for two days at the same venue, so if you’d like to attend both, a combination ticket is available. What’s a trip to Scotland without seeing some of the gorgeous sights? Tours are available to help you get out and about!


Scotland JS

Scotland JS

Scotland JS follows the Scotland CSS conference for two days to bring the JS community together to discuss, the latest and greatest in the JavaScript world. In addition to the program, there will be evening entertainment, with a choice of board games or whisky and gin tasting. If you want to join the Scotland CSS conference, combination tickets are available.




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, Ireland and London, U.K. over the coming months.

There is a 10% OFF early bird discount.

To find out more follow the links below.

Public speaking with Debbie Forster

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

Giving great talks with Russ Miles

London, UK – Thursday November 8, 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!