We spent – again – a great time with the folks at Web Engineering Unconference Europe in Palma last September! Each year the community gathering in Palma de Mallorca is full of positive vibes, of encouraging and enabling. Like supporting participants to give their first talk or to host their first session.
Learn to be a speaker – at unconferences
We should hold that in very high esteem. Where do we have the opportunity to try out ourselves as speakers in our professional environment? The more specialized our expertise becomes, the more important the exchange of knowledge from person to person becomes.
I ask many people coworking with us to give a session answering questions in an Ask Me Anything session about their specific professional field – but most times they do not feel comfortable about this. „I can’t do that like you“, they say. And so I keep telling them, that I also had to overcome my fears at the beginning.
Looking back, I am personally very happy that…
- I was working with a sponsoring boss in my early career. She pushed me to the stage because I was better at explaining the Internet and online services than she was.
- Barcamps / unconferences became popular in Germany, which I attended; when asked to share my experiences with apps I use to get work done I started hosting my first session.
- My job as Head of Research & Strategy in an agency let me give lots of presentations about new digital stuff for communications.
From my experiences, I can only rave about how supportive unconferences are to take the first steps as a speaker. It is a great opportunity for colearning. So the next time you attend a barcamp related to your interests – you should start to offer your first session, too.
7 tips for your first talk
In September Judith Andresen, Katrin Gombel and Thomas Lohner, long-time WEucEU enthusiasts, hosted the session „Conference Talks like a Boss“. For sure I chose their session, as you can always learn something new! Here are some tips I wrote down in my notebook:
- Just do it & learn! Take it step by step – you cannot learn everything about presenting at once. The session hosts called it the most important tip, and I can only but agree.
- Warm-up behind the scenes with some exercises. The video of the session will give you some of their tips to wipe away the tension in order to get ready for the show!
- Use the energy from your stage fright. Try to switch your perspective: Your body is not torturing you – it’s just that all your nerves are excited to get you ready for your speech.
- Introduce yourself as side-effect – like you are the least important person in the room. Don’t start your talk boring the audience with biographical facts of your business life. People show up because you have something important to say – rarely because of you.
- Use the power of the pause. Pauses are great, only the longer a pause last, the more awkward it gets. Especially for you as a speaker. But it’s worth to train using pauses. You give the audience a moment to fully process what you said. The length of your pause could be around three seconds. But watch the audience – when you feel they are waiting for you to speak, go on!
- The boss-level pause is letting the audience finish the thoughts by themselves – Thomas explains that very good in the video with his story about a kitten (and yes, every presentation should contain at least one sweet kitty).
- Storytelling is a magic power of good talks. People are rather interested in a story you tell them than listening to facts.
Next year I will attend the barcamps cowork2020 in Erfurt (April 24-26, 2020) as well as the Web Engineering Unconference Europe in Palma (September 4-6, 2020). See you there!
Links for you
- Eddie Jaoude recorded and shared the video about this session here: youtu.be/gyqGmvfSlxk
- Web Engineering Unconference Europe #weuceu weuceu.org
- Techies in der Sonne: WEucEU (Rayaworx blog) rayaworx.eu/blog/post/techies-in-der-sonne-weuceu-palma
- cowork2020 Coworking Konferenz & Barcamp Coworking coworking-konferenz.de
Photo & illustrations: DoSchu / Rayaworx