On Tuesday 4th November I gave a talk on the People’s Stage at the Dublin Web Summit. ‘The Dos and Don’ts of Consulting’ was my theme. After nearly twenty years at the coal face, I figure I qualify as an expert.
I had great fun.
Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, it was brilliant to give it a bash in a safe environment. The People’s Stages are small and frequented mostly by passers-by, who avail of the free chairs while they plan their day.
I expected most of my audience to be either distracted or half asleep. If I huddled over the podium, muttering into my notes, they would probably start snoring. I knew I could do better. I’ve been lucky enough to see fantastic speakers who know how to hold their audience – Joel Spolsky, Herb Sutter, Cindy Gallop.
Channelling ‘gripping-speakers-I-have-seen’, I created short, one-or-two-word slides with lots of pictures, and memorised my talk so that I could fix attendees with a beady eye.
It was a real triumph. By the end of my allocated seven minutes, most of those sitting in front of me were looking up and giving me their attention. A couple of the volunteers laughed at some of my jokes, and the sound engineer said in astonished tones as I left the stage “That was really good!”
When an earnest audience member approached me afterwards to point out a suspected anomaly in my content, my happiness was complete.