One month ago, in September, I spent my weekend in Berlin City, visiting the continent of Europe for the first time in my life, attending the Mozilla Tech Speaker meetup, together with Mozilla Tech Speakers from many places around the world.
In this meetup weekend, we spent two full days working together as we presented our 5-minute tech talks to the group. We had the honor to be coached by Denise Graveline, who came from Washington DC just for the meetup, and to learn from her experience coaching top TEDed speakers. We were thrilled by her tips in response to all the questions that come to mind in the tech and public speaking world.
I was really inspired to meet these lovely faces, friends I was used to working with online and had never met before.
Below I will summarize our activities in these two days, and provide some useful tips I learned to improve my tech speaking and public speaking skills.
We started the days at a place called Betahaus, an awesome working space in Berlin, which has unique architecture and entrepreneurship culture; it is an open space which can be rented to host tech and business events.
We were around 30 tech speakers, and each had to deliver a 5 minute tech talk. We did the tech talks in the mornings, so we could have the rest of the day for other activities. We had the chance to get feedback about our talks from the coach Denise Graveline and from the other tech speakers as well.
In the afternoon of the first day, we had the chance to visit Mozilla Berlin Office. And we were lucky to meet George Roter and many other Mozilla staff there, introducing us to the latest projects which Mozilla has been working on actively recently.
On the second day, we had the chance to work on a biography session, improving our tech speaking bios. In addition, we created Mozilla slide decks to introduce Mozilla, Mozilla Dev Relations team, Tech Speakers Program and the Community and Participation team.
Here are a few tips I wrote about speaking, and hopefully you will find them helpful too.
- Introduce yourself at the beginning of the talk, but don’t speak too much, a line is enough.
- When starting the talk with a story, don’t prepare audience for the story, just start with it. Don’t add unnecessary introductions.
- If you start the talk with a story which is strong and funny, build rest of the talk on top of it.
- Don’t forget to make eye contact with the audience.
- Give your talk at a steady speed. Try to say 120 words per minute, which adds up to 600 words for 5 minutes.
- Use useful gestures and try to vary the tone of your voice over the timeline of your talk, based on your content.
- Always end your talk with an action: tell your audience what you want them to do.
- Use the Rule of 3, which recommends that you always mention 3 major points in your talk, or refer to 3 major points in your story. Similarly, while practicing your talk, focus on 3 main points about the talk, to help you remember them later.
- Pause between the main 3 sections of the talk for a few seconds.
- What to wear: when preparing for your talk, try to wear a color that does not blend with the wall color in the background behind the speaker’s podium, so you can be seen better on camera.
- When choosing the topic for your talk:
- Talk about something that interests you, also don’t make your talk too generic, and be unique in a way that makes this talk fit you.
- Talk about something you would like to hear and learn more about.
- Don’t stay still while talking on the stage, at the same time don’t move too quickly. In short, try to have your own unique style, and use the gestures that work best with your own style of talking.
- If you feel you have forgotten an important part of the talk, or you lose the main idea while talking, don’t listen to your brain, just continue the talk with whatever ideas come to mind that are relevant to the talk. This can help you recover the ideas quickly and continue.
- If you are organizing a group of talks in a meetup, it is good to have different talks styles and different time slots: 5 min, 8 min, 10 min, etc.
- If you are using slides for your talk, make sure to have one thought per slide.
- If the info you want to mention is on the slide, it should not come out of your mouth and vice versa.
- If you feel anxious about the talk, slow down while talking, try to take deep, slow breathes for seconds.
- Slow down while talking if you are not speaking in your own language.
- Finally, don’t forget to practice and prepare for the talk. This is so important you should consider it a top priority.
I hope you enjoyed my blog. Big thanks to the Mozilla team who helped make this event awesome! Havi Hoffman, Dietrich Ayala, and Michael Ellis.
See you in future Mozilla events! Keep rocking the open web 🙂