Next week as I head to Heartland Developer’s Conference (as an attender, not a speaker this year) I thought I’d share the one thing I try to put in all my speeches. It’s not something I’ve come up with myself. I’m far from the only person who does this. By and large if a speaker does this one little thing, he or she will deliver a better presentation than 90% of the presenters.
So what’s the one thing? Imagine you’re in the audience, what would you want to hear?
That’s it. Too many people speak and try to puke out everything they know on the subject. Most of the time that’s completely worthless. For example, if you’re giving a talk on how to do Test Driven Development (TDD) you don’t need to spend 5 mintues talking about who “founded” TDD, how they stumbled upon the theory, and what the first project was to be written as a TDD application.
Instead, ask yourself “If I had never seen TDD before, would this information help me become proficient in TDD?” If the answer is no, remove the line from your presentation.
Public speaking is to serve a purpose, and sadly too many people think that purpose is to demonstrate their knowledge, humor, skill and wit, but it’s not. The purpose of public speaking is to convey relevant information.
There a ton of things you can do to make yourself a better speaker, and Google can tell you all of those (for example, practice practice, practice.) But if you were the most eloquent speaker of all time and you don’t answer the question of “Is this something I would want to hear?” Then you’re wasting your time, and mine.