Public Speaking Tip 1 : Do some public speaking!


A number of people have asked me how they can improve their public speaking. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I thought I’d share my thoughts over a series of posts. Why a series? Because I figured if I tried to write an all encompassing post on the subject it would become long and boring, so small sound-bites it is! 🙂

So the first suggestion I would make about improving your public speaking, is to actually do some public speaking. There’s a pretty simple rule in life, you tend to get good at things you do regularly. I would suggest that very few people in life can stand up in front of an audience for the first time and feel the audience is about to witness greatness. No matter how bad you are at presenting, after you’ve done 20, you will be better than you were at the start. After 40 you will be better than you were at 20…

So I’m suggesting you get up in front of 1500 people at OpenWorld for your first gig right? Wrong! That’s likely to turn you into a neurotic wreck. There are a whole bunch of ways you can break yourself in gently, including some of the following:

  • Organise a regular session in your company. You could get together with a bunch of colleagues and arrange to present stuff to each other on a regular basis. This not only improves your presentation skills, but adds greatly to knowledge spreading in the organisation. I was first introduced to this during my PhD. Every Friday we had a meeting where 2-3 people from the lab were picked to present for 10-15 minutes each. If you had made some progress in your research, you might present about that. If not, you might present about a specific scientific paper you had read recently. I do a similar thing in my current company. Every 2 weeks I present to my colleagues for an hour. I’ve suggested someone else steps up to the plate occasionally, but so far that’s not really happened. 🙂
  • Speak at a Special Interest Group (SIG). There will probably be a number of SIGs happening around your region for a variety of user groups, including your local Oracle User Group. They are always on the hunt for new speakers. It’s much easier to do something like this first, rather than rock up to a full blown conference.
  • Toastmasters. I’ve never tried this myself, but a number of people I respect have said very good things about it.

Whatever you decide to try, the main thing to remember is, you will never get good at speaking in public if all you do is sit at home and bitch about the fact you are crap at speaking in public! 🙂

Check out the rest of the series here.



Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

9 thoughts on “Public Speaking Tip 1 : Do some public speaking!”

  1. Only thing I’ll add…is just be aware for that very first “true” public speaking engagement, you might find yourself in a wild panic (no matter how much practice you’ve done).

    To that I say…so what ? Its the same with *anything* you do that’s brand new…

    No matter how you do (spectacularly well or spectacular fail), the thing that will amaze you at the end of it will be ….. “Hey, I’m still alive”

    After that, its an easy road ahead

  2. I think a very important thing to believe before anything else is that it’s perfectly acceptable to say “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” if someone asks a question you can’t answer immediately.

  3. I made the error of making my first presentation at the UKOUG conference, expecting to have a low attendance, so I rocked up and was told I was in lecture theater X (I can’t remember which one due to the blind panic). Fortunately I had prepared pretty well, and the conference organisers where hugely helpful, and ad the lights dimmed I could focus on presenting to the front few rows as i couldn’t see the most of the people.
    I keep meaning to do more, and do manage to spend a few hours a month covering fundamentals with developers and support staff in house but do find it hard to find the time for anything beyond that.

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