In 2012, I gave myself a goal: become an experienced product designer with management and leadership skills within five years. I was a junior designer at the time, and saw other designers moving ahead of me because of their superior communication skills. To become a better communicator (and ultimately a better designer), I knew I needed to up my speaking game.
In one year, I learned to propose interesting talks and speak with presence at conferences in tech and gaming across the United States. In three years, I learned to do so while also getting paid. Along the way, I also got better jobs and various opportunities that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t started speaking.
Since the documentation of steps I took to improve my speaking ability turned into a very long chunk of text, I’m splitting them into separate posts. I hope this information will help you find your voice and gain access to more opportunities.
Throughout the posts, I will be listing the steps I took and exercises I did in order to become a better public speaker. These printable worksheets will help with many exercises. You can print them out and use a pencil or pen to fill in spaces.
Bring the series with you
Like most self-improvement efforts, this is a long-term investment. The eBook version of this series is available on Amazon, Gumroad, or iBooks for under $10. A physical copy of the book is also available on Amazon. Every purchase comes with the worksheets, a $3.99 value, for free. You can bookmark this page, but there won’t be a way to highlight important points, view the series offline, or take notes.
On with your journey. Good luck!
Table of contents
- Step 1: Build confidence
- Step 2: Locate opportunities
- Step 3: Generate interesting topics
- Step 4: Write proposals
- Step 5: Craft your bio
- Step 6: Submit proposals
- Step 7: Accept opportunities
- Step 8: Prepare content
- Step 9: Make slides
- Step 10: Practice often
Thank you for letting me help you along your journey to become a public speaker. If you like this series, please share it with anyone who might find it useful. If it somehow changed your life, I encourage you email me that positive feedback so I can celebrate with you! If you want to support the creation of more work like this, you can send me some love.
Looking for more content about public speaking? Below are a variety of websites, blog posts, and books to check out. Please support and share content by these creators if their works help you.
- Speaking.io by Zach Holman helped me get started. It has a lot of basic information as well as tips regarding what to do right before getting onstage, how to do live coding demos, and how to use a presenter remote.
- Toastmasters is an organization devoted to helping people become better public speakers. You can use their online resources or find a club near you.
- Slide Design for Developers, also by Zach Holman, helped me design my first slideshow for public speaking purposes without running into common legibility issues.
- How to Cheat at Creating Great Presentations for Tech & Marketing Audiences by Rand Fishkin includes great ways to build engagement and tension within your presentation.
- How to Create Your Professional Speaker Biography by Yvonne Bryant provides great examples of biographies that helped me shape my first speaker bio.
- Demystifying Public Speaking by Lara Hogan is a great book for anyone who is uncomfortable with the idea of public speaking and/or unsure of how to become a public speaker.
- Confessions of a Public Speaker, a book by Scott Berkin, shares techniques to become better communicators.
- The Naked Presenter by Garr Reynolds is a book that will help you learn to deliver engaging presentations with or without slideshows.
- Presentation Zen, another book by Garr Reynolds, provides advice regarding ways to give better talks by using storytelling techniques.
Good luck, young padawan! Become a speaking master!
Tools for self-improvement
Over my many years in design and technology, I have created a variety of free and low-cost tutorials, printable worksheets, and more.
Support my work
I love writing and sharing tips, but it's time-intensive and takes a lot of effort. This kind of labor is not cheap.
In this panel discussion, Women Talk Design has invited a few incredible design and tech conference speakers to share their experiences. Learn how they got their first speaking engagement, what conferences they attend, how they prepare for giving a talk, and what advice they have for those getting started. You'll leave inspired to share your own ideas and experiences, and get out there and speak.
Emoti-Con is NYC's biggest showcase for young designers, makers, technologists, and tinkerers who believe in digital innovation as a tool for positive change in the world around them.
Want to talk?
Got feedback, looking to suggest a future writing topic, or want to invite me to speak at your organization? Send me a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible!