Getting into public speaking – A guide for those working in IT

With VMworld starting soon, I wanted to put up a quick post about getting started with public speaking.

VMworld has short Tech Talks which are 10 minutes or so long and have a small audience, a perfect way to get started. (find out more here)


I confess that I am no expert on this topic but I sometimes hear people in the IT community wanting to start public speaking but don’t know where to start. I started talking at some small events a couple of years ago and while I’m certainly no “pro” I find it an enjoyable way (in addition to my blog) to help others, giving your perspective on things in the IT industry. It can also serve as a great confidence booster and help with your career.

My initial fears

Fear 1

When I started I was always worried that my title was already covered by someone else, or that the content was not unique.

The reality is that no one has the exact same experience. Take for example a talk about how to upgrade a particular product, your experience in how you tackled this will always be different from someone else. Also, people often attend the same type of talk a few times to get varying opinions on things so having a similar title to a previous talk or on the same subject should never put you off from submitting an idea.

Fear 2

I’m not “good enough”.

This was holding me back for ages – There are so many good speakers out there that you think you need to be like them to succeed. WRONG. Okay, well some people are born speakers but most will admit that they started off small and gained experience. One step at a time! Consider co-presenting with a friend to make it easier.

Fear 3

What if I mess up?

At the end of the day, you are just talking. Being realistic, it might not be the most professional talk in the world when you are starting out but as long as you are talking the right language, what really can go wrong, is it really that bad? If you are really worried about this point, practise with a friend, or just record yourself doing a run through and adapt from there.

How to prepare

  • I wouldn’t over think things. Get a title together and put your talk into a story. Build up a powerpoint deck going through this story (beginning, middle and end)
  • Talk to friends, show your slide deck and do a dry run through with a friend.
  • Consider taking things one step further, have a look for public speaking training events in your local town/city.

Where can I present?

There are loads of great places to get started:

  • Ask your local VMUG if there are any short community spots. Or find out who your local VMUG leader is and contact them directly with your idea.
  • Talk to local business communities, the BCS is a good place to start.
  • Submit a proposal to the VMworld VMTN Tech talks – These are at VMworld and only last around 10 minutes. Audiences are small (approx 20 people) so easy to get started.

Good luck and enjoy!

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