Public Speaking Resources

Had you told me 10 years ago that not only would I be on the open source/tech conference speaking circuit but that I would love it, I would’ve looked at you like you had three heads but only two eyes between them all.

And yet, here we are. In 2016 I presented 18 talks at 15 events all over the world. So far in 2017 I’ve either presented or organised 9 talks or events. I advise people on their conference proposals, bios, and on the talks themselves. I provide training for those who wish to get started in conference speaking. This is not at all the life I envisioned for myself; it’s So Much Better and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had so far. Thank you, all.

In 2016, in collaboration with Josh Berkus, I presented my first ever speaker training workshop. Since then both Josh & I have presented the material separately and each made it their own. We’re covering more ground this way, training far more people than we would if we had to coordinate between our very hectic schedules.

During the writing process of that workshop, we created a bibliography of public speaking links. In the year and a half which followed, I kept adding to that bibliography whenever I discovered a link which we hadn’t included the first time around. It was turning into a really great resource for those wanting to learn more about presenting at tech conferences, but it was impossible to find. Who drills down into the repo of a workshop which was presented only once? No one, that’s who. So the valuable bibliography was lying dormant. Well. It ain’t sleeping anymore…

🎉 Please welcome the Public Speaking Resources repo into the world! 🎉

Currently weighing in at 50 different public speaking and conference presenting links, this is one of the best resources you’ll find for improving your conference speaking experience.

One of the advantages of pulling the bibliography out into its own repository is that it’s now very easy for anyone to contribute a new link or resource for the benefit of everyone. We ❤️ contributions and contributors!

Even if you don’t have a link to contribute to the collection, the repo also serves as a focal point for a community which can answer your tech conference presenting questions and help support you on your path to becoming an amazing conference speaker. There are two ways to get this support:

  1. Open an issue with your question or suggestion and we’ll do our best to guide you.
  2. Join in the real-time conversation on the #public_speaking IRC channel on Freenode. Yeah, we know that Slack is the new hotness, but this project still kicks it old school. But fear not! The IRC channel is covered by the project code of conduct, so you needn’t worry about dealing with the less savory elements of the internet. You also don’t need to jump through a lot of hoops to join in the conversation. Just hop on the webchat, pick a nickname, and you’re good to go! If you’d like to learn more about how to use IRC, there’s an article for that.

There ya go! Please share this public speaking resource with everyone who might be interested and please contribute. Together, we’ll help a lot of people improve their public speaking, their self confidence, and their careers.

How to record a presentation screencast video using Quicktime

I’m a frequent public speaker. The trend of late is for conferences to record presentations and then post them publicly later. This is a great trend, as it helps preserve and spread knowledge and expertise.

It often can take quite a while for a conference to get videos posted. I certainly don’t fault them for this; video post-processing is a time- and attention-intensive task, often made more difficult to schedule due to all-volunteer staff. For one reason or another (typically self-review for improving the presentation and my delivery) I usually need access to my talk videos more quickly than a conference can provide them.

This past August I presented speaker training at /dev/world/2016. While I was there Tony Gray, chair of the AUC, taught me how to take live screencasts of my presentations using Quicktime. This was, in its own small way, life changing for this public speaker. Thanks, Tony!

Now all y’all can benefit from Tony’s wisdom. What follows below are the steps to do this yourself. Some caveats:

  • That this is possible won’t be news to a lot of people, but I’ve been doing this speaking thing for years and had never heard of or seen it from any other speaker. When Tony told me about it I had a real head-smacking “Oh, duh!” moment.
  • This isn’t going to be the best or most professional quality recording, but it’s actually better than you’d think and so far it’s always been good enough for me to share the video.
  • These steps are very specifically targeted for recording a conference presentation. Modify as necessary for your specific needs.
  • This is for macOS and Quicktime. No, I don’t know how to do it on other platforms.

And now, those steps:

  1. Set up your slides for presenting. Whatever software you use for this (I currently use Deckset), however you usually prefer it presented (mirrored or not), do that.
  2. Fire up Quicktime Player. This comes standard on all Macs. Use your preferred method for locating/opening apps (mine’s Alfred) to start up the program.
Select 'New Screen Recording' 3. Select ‘New Screen Recording’. Select this from the File menu:
Select 'Internal Microphone' 4. Select ‘Internal Microphone’. There’s a little dropdown menu next to the ‘Record’ button. You can select audio input here. Select ‘Internal Microphone,’ unless you know you have an external one plugged into your Mac and working.
  5. Click ‘Record’. Assuming everything else is ready to go (slides are ready to roll), click ‘Record’. You’d think you’re recording now, but you’re not. There’s another step first:
Select which screen to record 6. Select which screen to record. If you mirror, either screen will do. I use a lot of speaker notes, so I don’t mirror when I display my slides. Therefore I need to get the pointer to the screen which is displaying the slides (usually behind me) and click anywhere on it. And now you’re recording.
  7. Click back on your screen. If you don’t do this your slides won’t have focus so your clicker or other slide-changing method won’t work. I’ve learned this the hard way. Twice (so far).
  8. Present. Do your presentation as usual. Please don’t forget to repeat the questions from the audience. Not only is it best practice, it also ensures that the questions end up on the recording, rather than just your out-of-context answers.
  9. End recording. When you’re done speaking, locate Quicktime and click that red button again to stop the recording. There may also be a red button in your menu bar. If there is, you can click it to stop the recording.
  10. Save recording. Do the usual File > Save… dance to save the file. THIS WILL TAKE A WHILE (depending on the length of the presentation), so don’t do it if you have to close your laptop and relocate soon (like when you’re packing up and making way for the next presenter). Wait until you can allow your Mac to sit undisturbed for a while. Don’t worry: as long as you don’t shut down your Mac or Quicktime that recording will sit there ready and waiting to be saved.

That’s it! You now have a lovely screencast recording of your presentation. It will have your slides with you speaking.

After this I usually do minimal editing (trimming any unnecessary slush from either end) and then upload the video to Internet Archive along with the slides+speaker notes.

I hope you find this helpful. If you do, please send some Twitter love to my friend Tony to thank him for showing these steps to me.