Last week I spoke at the first Product of Sydney talk night, hosted by ustwo in Surry Hills, Sydney. And then last night I spoke at the 100th Melbourne Cocoaheads meetup hosted by Outware Mobile. I’m no expert public speaker, in fact there is still a lot of room for me to improve my speaking style, my confidence and to remove a few annoying nuances and nervous ticks from the way that I present. Alas, the road to improvement is all about speaking more, learning more and challenging myself in new and unique ways. That’s why I decided on a limb to give two different talks, in two different cities within the space of 2 weeks.
Talking at ustwo was a pretty amazing experience, heaps of exciting, talented and creative people attended. People who are nothing like the people I’d expect at events that I usually attend. There was a real tangible level of diversity, a lot of designers, creatives and overall a very smart collective of experienced people in the audience. We ordered some really tasty pizza from Hello Pizza and setup a projector in the corner of one of the most creative, fun and exciting offices I’ve ever seen in Sydney. I can only hope that I get the opportunity to speak and attend events like this more often.
In Sydney I presented a more designer focused iteration of the talk I present a few months back at DevWorld. It went pretty well, the audience was significantly smaller and thus far more intimate which in many ways was more intimidating than past talks. I survived and I think this event will go a long way in helping me find my groove as a speaker. Surprisingly the audience really related to the subject of slowing down in the approach to building products and the topic resonated with a few people with different product design backgrounds.
I found it incredibly comforting to hear from people who care enough about the products they are building to question their approaches to the way they build and the reasons or values that drive them to pursue certain objectives. There are not nearly enough people around me right now that are passionate enough about their work to think this way and be this open minded.
As quick as it started, I found myself on a plane to Melbourne preparing for last night’s talk at Melbourne Cocoaheads. As an iOS Developer and regular attendee of the Sydney Cocoaheads meetup, I’ve always wanted to attend the famously well organised Melbourne Cocoaheads meetup. Having the opportunity to actually attend and present a talk was even more exciting. It was a great opportunity to catch up with all of my Melbourne based friends, hear about the work they’ve been doing and even just to absorb as much coffee as I can from as many Melbourne cafes as socially and physically acceptable.
I presented a talk I’ve also given at Sydney Cocoaheads about ‘Giving Better Talks’, because I feel that there is a lot of room for improvement and change in technical talks at meetups such as these. Instead of presenting a very deeply technical talk with a lot of code and heaps of slides, I wanted to use my communications background to show how a talk can be really engaging for the audience. Funnily enough the opening of this talk involves me reciting some of the magnificently well considered vocabulary of non other than Sir Jonathan Ive. And people love it!
What I’ve realised is that the reason I love public speaking so much is because I’m in a few different ways disappointed with the discourse happening around me. I attend a lot of meetups, conferences and events these days and I tend to leave a little bit dissatisfied with the things people are saying, or not saying about the areas of interest I’m involved in, technology and product development being two examples. I’m also optimistic in exploring different and exciting ways to present ideas on these things in a way that can engage and audience and spark conversations, or discussions around a certain topic.
Instead of adding to the negativity I see on twitter and at events, I’m pushing back on that and being more positive, while at the same time asking the right questions and being more critical. Public speaking and writing enable me to be more vocal about my perspectives and opinions on the issues I experience. These mediums are my way of saying to everyone, “Why is this like this, and not like that?”