I love giving talks to diverse types of audiences. I consider Public Speaking to be at the same time an extremely challenging and gratifying activity, that very often requires you to get out of your comfort zone. My first experience giving talks was when I taught an introductory BASIC programming course in my high-school in Rio de Janeiro. At that time I was 16 and had to teach other students who were a few years younger than me. Several years later, as a M.Sc. student at the Technion in Israel, I became a Teaching Assistant. It was very difficult for me, because I was still learning Hebrew at that time. Today, thanks to this blog, I am very frequently being invited to speak at diverse meet-ups and conferences.
The Challenges of Public Speaking
I think the most challenging aspect of Public Speaking is preparing my presentation. But this includes much more than simply writing the slides, adding some nice pictures and drawing charts and diagrams. I always do lots of rehearsals, planning what exactly I will say at each slide, and measuring precisely my time. I also always give a talk to myself facing a large mirror, at least once. I personally don’t make a special effort to prepare jokes in advance, but I always think about alternative ways to better engage my audience. Finally, I always imagine what kinds of questions people may ask, and think about good answers. My experience is that, when I am really well prepared, talking to the public becomes relatively easy, and I don’t feel any particular fear nor anxiety.
The Joy of Public Speaking
I think the most gratifying aspect of Public Speaking is when you are able to really engage your audience. You can feel as you speak when people are paying attention and thinking about your message, when they start asking lots of interesting questions, when they nod their heads in agreement with your statements. But it is also great when someone in the audience asks a particular challenging question, which makes people in the audience turn their heads to see who is asking. This is very often an opportunity to provide a detailed answer including also additional aspects that were not mentioned in the original question, conquering the attention of the entire audience. Then you have transformed your public speaking into a Public Dialogue.
What is your experience with Public Speaking? Please share with us in the comments below.