Present and Practice

I was recently at an event put on by Atlassian. The main topic for the event was Git, with 2 talks given by 2 different developer evangelists.

Outside of the talks being very salesy for Atlassian products (way more than I anticipated), the big thing that stood out to me was that both of these people were 100% developers and not speakers.

For some it’s easy, for some…

Now, I can appreciate that challenge of organizing an event like this. Attendees want to learn from the best, so 99% of the time, developer evangelists are booked because they’re some of the best in their field and people like me look up to them for their knowledge, skill, and the awesome code they write.

But sadly, little consideration seems to be given to their ability to convey ideas in a public speaking setting. These people may be the best of the best when it comes to coding, but if you’re in the audience expect lots of start…and stops…and ‘um’…and no stories.

Basically expect to be bored by a poor presenter.

Not acceptable

This is unacceptable. If this is you and you’re running a business that requires you to interact with clients then it’s going to hurt your business lots.

Talking to prospects well and selling them on your services requires all the same skills as public speaking. Have you thought about that? If not, take a minute and let that sink in. Your clients want to be ‘wowed’ just as much as the audience members at a keynote address.

You need to be confident.

You need to be able to tell them a story about how their lives will change once they start working with you.

You need to draw them in and be engaging.

If you’re an employee, you need to bring the same skills to a job interview. Sell your potential employer on the benefit that you will bring to their business. Tell them a story about how awesome their future will be with you around.

Okay so how do I?

So how do you learn to teach and influence well?

You could join Toastmasters to experience a variety of opportunities to speak to a group. Practice and honest, caring critique will make you better.

Need an intermediate step? Check out Sticky Teaching by Chris Lema, who is an awesome speaker on all sorts of topics. For some validation on his awesomeness check out all the talks he’s done a WordCamps. (update December 11, 2014 2:43 PM So Chris took the course down due to VATMOSS and I can’t really blame him at all. I mean why would I want to suddenly pay taxes in the EU?)

Start diving in now and learn to be a better presenter. Hone your pitch so you can tell your prospects the awesome story about how you will change their lives.

photo credit: hazzat cc

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