Tag: public speaking

Working Together

Last night I spoke at Web Directions' excellent and low-key What Do You Know (Melbourne).

This was the second of their small-scale events, designed as a launchpad for local speakers to test talk concepts in front of an audience, in preparation for a possible slot at the October event, held in Sydney's Luna Park.

I spoke about learning to be ignorant, which I think is an important step on the road to empathy.

The real delight for me, though, is seeing what other people share from the stage. Looking at their workflows, the small hacks they employ to make their lives a little better, the new technologies that they get excited about: it's the only time I hear people being optimistic about their jobs. It's uplifting. The optimism spreads through the room.

Last night I learnt more about ES6 and JavaScript Promises, and I was introduced to things I wasn't even aware of before like React, Ember and Pact.

It's just a joy to see people work with something they love and then to want to share it and get others excited.

We're all just learning. Or we're all still learning. Either way, it's really nice to know that we're all in this together.

Inviting Judgement

Last night I spoke at Melbourne Geek Night with a talk I've been thinking about for a long time.

"A Content-Led Destruction of Silos" sought to explore the way understanding the essence of content can help production teams work together through the design, development and testing of a new digital product.

I wasn't sure if the idea was well-formed enough to put it in front of a bunch of strangers, but I also realised that I couldn't keep putting it off. If I really wanted to discuss this idea with people, I had to be public about it. I had to invite discussion because it won't just come on its own.

The problem most people have with public speaking doesn't apply to me but after the talk I found my heart was pounding. I had the symptoms of nervousness but only once I was off the stage and back in the audience.

We are judged in so many parts of our lives that we rarely invite judgement, and we're even more rarely honest when judging ourselves.

It was only after the talk that I had the opportunity to review the talk as it exists in its real form. This is very different to reading it out loud in my lounge-room. I found myself trying to remember the audience's reaction to different points as a test of their usefulness.

In design and development we talk about testing all the time: And then we see these talks that people give: And we read these blog posts that declare the right way or the new way to do something, but we almost never stop to ask if those theories have been tested and what the conditions were for those tests.

Last night I decided to submit my own ideas to a peer review. In science this happens all the time. In science an idea doesn't even have validity until it's peer-reviewed. I was nervous afterwards because I didn't think that I passed the review but I shouldn't have concentrated on a pass or a fail. I should have just

Today, with the energy of the talk itself behind me, I'm able to evaluate the talk, not only in the way I gave it, but more importantly in the information I actually passed on to the people in the room.

I know that my first mistake was talking about the best way to do something rather than presenting my theory as opportunity for people to discuss its pros and cons. What I really wanted to do, and what I will do when I'm presenting it again, is ask people if they thought it could work.

Now I'm looking forward to the next time I give the talk. The idea of redrafting with a new context excites me. Maybe it won't even be a talk. Maybe it will be an article. What I do know is that I want to make it better and I want to make it useful to people.

Last night was the first step towards that.