Presenter Series: How Developers Like You Can Nail Your Technical Talk

We’ve been sharing articles on how to improve different aspects of what goes into giving a talk. We talked about how to write your talk, shared how you could promote your talk, and even shown how you can ace live coding.

One of the common themes throughout those articles was that there is more to public speaking than the speaking part.

Why give a good talk

There are lots of reasons why you want your talk to be well received.

  • It can lead to more business for your company, freelance or not
  • You might get asked to give it again somewhere else
  • It can build your standing in the community
  • Plus, hearing nice things about your work is… nice 🙂

What makes a “Good” talk

For a talk to be good, there are lots of things that you need to get right. We’ve touched on some of them in the articles above. They are worth highlighting again.

  • Write the talk in a way that makes it easy to edit and share
  • Don’t waste people’s time when you’re on stage
  • Promote the talk to the right people at the right time
  • Have confidence in the tech you are using

The amount of work can seem daunting, and this doesn’t touch on how scary public speaking can feel.

Lets automate what we can

If you aren’t a professional public speaker, you probably haven’t purchased any software specifically to help with the processes we’ve spoken about. This is where automation software can really help.

In our day jobs, we often use tools like TextExpander to automate away the parts of the job which are less “thought work” and more plain old “work work.” There is an obvious upside to being more efficient at parts of your day job.

However, we frequently fall into the trap of using a tool only for the purpose we first bought it.

So, look at the tool you have, and look at how you can use them better. For example, we use TextExpander all the time. One of its benefits is that it doesn’t care if you’re storing snippets which make grading student papers easier or, in this case, writing and presenting an excellent talk.

Automation lets us focus on a much smaller set of issues, and enables us to dedicate more mental energy to just those items.

You can’t automate practicing a talk several times to improve delivery. Or make you feel more at ease when presenting, but the time you’ve saved along the way will free you up to focus on those more pressing and human things.

Real-world example

This series came from personal experience. Last year our blog contributor, Toby, was asked to give a talk about compilers to folk with no background knowledge on what compilers are.

He had to use all his tools to his advantage at all stages:

  • The event was free, which meant a high dropout rate of registered folk, which meant lots of repetitive promotion.
  • There was a live coding element. Writing a compiler in front of people includes lots of tedious code, he needed to automate as much of that typing as possible while minimizing distracting mistakes.
  • He was working full time on a new company, and didn’t have time to make lots of overly visual slides, so he needed to take already written content and repurpose.

If you’re interested in how compilers work, here is his talk!

Compilers – Computer Science Noobs

How have you made giving talks easier on yourself?

Have you used a tool, TextExpander, or otherwise for a task you didn’t originally intend? Or have you used a combination of tools to do something amazing? We’d love to hear about it. Let us know on @TextExpander and on Facebook.

And since we’re ending a series on presenting, it seems only fitting we end with:

Thank you, any questions?