Ask everyone

. 1 min read

My conference talk on public speaking was done. I had personally asked 30 software engineers for feedback and incorporated their thoughts into the talk. The script was complete and the slides were finalised. I even tested the talk at a meetup.

I’ve been performing comedy for more than a decade. I’ve been thinking about public speaking for a long time.

I thought I was done.

On a whim, I thought I’d say hi to my Computer Science lecturer and run the talk by him. Anyone who can make pointers seem interesting and friendly is a public speaking genius.

By the time we finished, I had so many new ideas. So many points I hadn’t considered…!

I made a massive mistake while writing this conference talk. I thought I had asked for diverse feedback - Pythonistas, Ruby web developers, backend engineers, team leads… but what I had done was ask 30 software engineers for feedback. I needed to ask other great public speakers for their tips.

I asked more lecturers for advice. I asked more comedians for advice. I found other developers who perform comedy, and asked them for advice.

I put the old talk in the bin, and started again.

I thought I was the teacher, but I ended up learning so much more about public speaking.

If you’re writing a talk, ask everyone you know for feedback. Ask different people for feedback.

Photo by Greg Bulla on Unsplash.