Speaking at Tech Events for Beginners Workshop

Yesterday, I attended the “Speaking at Tech Events for Beginners” workshop hosted by Pittsburgh Code & Supply. I decided to sign up because I would like to do more public speaking. It’s something I have always enjoyed – no, I’m not lying, some people really do like public speaking! The Tech community seems to have a lot of opportunities for it – I have gone and enjoyed many talks in the tech community by now, and I want to give back. I also hoped that this workshop would help me come up with some topic ideas for speaking.

The workshop was run by Julie Pagano, who has a couple years of public speaking under her belt. She gave the keynote at Open Source Bridge this year, and I have seen her give multiple talks in Pittsburgh. She always does an awesome job and she is very supportive/encouraging, so I knew she would be a great teacher.

At the start of the workshop, we were split into small groups and got to know each other. We then provided feedback for each other though the course of the workshop, which was split into the following sections:

1. Team Introductions

2. Brainstorming

3. Proposal

4. Outline

5. Slides

6. Practice

and finally, Present! We presented our lightning talks to the class.

I didn’t have too much trouble coming up with ideas, although most of mine definitely fit into the “People” umbrella of topics. Using feedback from my team, I eventually settled on topic title of “Be in the Driver’s Seat – Taking Charge of Your Career in Tech”.

This talk mostly focused on my personal experiences (hey, we only had 3 minutes to speak, after all!) on switching roles in tech. There was a phase of my career where I let things happen TO me. Sometimes, even good things can happen to you when you let things happen TO you. I was promoted to a lead position. Was it of my own volition? No. The next phase of my career (and the one I’m in now) is being in the driver’s seat. I’m taking a harder look at what I consider my “best days at work” and aligning my day to day work with my strengths and interests.

The most difficult part of the workshop was taking an idea THIS big and stripping away all the ‘extras’ to get your talk down to 3 minutes. It’s tough to be clear and concise, especially when you don’t have much time to refine your presentation. When I have a 90 second pitch this summer at PitchFest, I really had to work on refining my pitch. I practiced it in front of 15 or so people and refined it each time – boiled it down. That is a tough mental exercise.

Oh, as a sidenote…we (meaning the entire class) used Google Drive for collaboration and presenting and it worked really well.

Thanks to Julie for teaching, and to Pittsburgh Code & Supply for hosting a great workshop. I now feel confident that I will speak at tech events in the future.


So, what do you think ?