Giving a talk on Quality as a culture


I have been charged with giving a talk to my company about quality as a culture. I have many ideas of what I want to say, but I’ve never given a talk before, and I tend to get red-faced and embarrassed when I attempt to speak in public. For me, this talk is the gateway for me moving up from the head of QA to director level, which will require me not only to be a thought leader but also a presenter and evangelist in the community.

I wanted to know if anyone here has any advice on going from complete novice to becoming an engaging speaker that they could share? I really appreciate any help you can give me.

Work was done so far:
I created an outline of what I want to say but it was too clinical and cold. I then wrote a speech that would be great if it was a medium article (I’m actually going to turn it into an article). I think I need some middle ground. The speech is quoted below:

Slide 1: This is fine dog meme
Slide 2: “Quality assurance leaders play a crucial role in business by ensuring that products meet certain standards of quality. They plan, direct or coordinate quality assurance programs and formulate quality control policies. They also work to improve an organization’s efficiency and profitability by reducing waste.”

Quality as a Culture Talk:
Today I want to talk a bit about my perspective on what quality really means.

The central role of a Quality Assurance engineer is to hold two ideas firmly in their minds at all times.

Given infinite possibilities what is the worst thing that can go wrong and how do we prepare for that?
Imagine the software as it could be, on its best day, and formulating strategies that help make that a reality.

We are advocates for the customer’s voice during the entire software build cycle as well as a communications manager, ensuring that internal voices are heard and amplified where necessary.

We concern ourselves with the past, the present and the future of the software and company - attempting to understand where we came from and where we are going by analyzing release patterns for features and the bugs that resulted from them. The point of which is to help predict areas of future risk to work towards minimizing them.

An experienced QA engineer understands that no matter how many times or how carefully they formulate plans to test the software, their biases and assumptions about patterns of use will only ever cover 75% of the applications under test. It is important to recognize this fact and attempt to create feedback mechanisms and software release gates code has to pass through before being released to our customers.

On an operational level, that means facilitating communication between as many people as possible to gain insights, which in turn helps inform our engineering planning and prioritization based on those insights.

It is the job of QA to step back and look at how the work being completed for each release fits into the overall picture of what our software hopes to achieve in order to offer insights from a neutral perspective. By teaching ourselves to see in this way, we become an extra set of eyes that provide a wider context for each team through our efforts.

In my experience QA engineers are naturally curious people, that love learning all they can about software, processes, and people. You may be thinking, what motivates me and gives me a perspective on quality that is worthy of a speech like this? It isn’t reporting a bug. It’s getting a chance to let my curiosity inform my actions to explore the software from as many perspectives as possible. I think of the different aspects of our software as an infinite number of puzzles waiting to be solved.

I am fortunate in that I get to ask myself daily questions like: Is it possible to predict human behavior, based on the information we obtain from our sales efforts and user testing? Can we understand a company’s pain points and if so, how can our software lessen them? Can we look at our planning efforts and cadence of development and find areas that could be optimized by implementing small changes with large effects on delivering that software to the marketplace in a timely manner? What tools can be employed or created that can help put our product through its paces, ensuring that it continues to work well at scale, as we onboard a larger more diverse user base?

In short, we are the bridge between technology and people and understand that quality begins with the individual. The QA game is about understanding how each person in a company contributes to its success so that we can coordinate how the daily efforts of those people translate into the achievement of strategic goals. We endeavor to understand where people’s work intersects to help ensure we get from idea to reality.

It’s times like this that I enjoy thinking of quality assurance less as a technical role, though I am required to understand the application of technology in business and engineering, and more as a cross-disciplinary function. A successful person in this role requires the people engaging in the work to wear a great many hats such as product ambassador, puzzler solver, project manager, and engineer.

No one person can understand all there is to know about a product because that information is vast and constantly changing, but together we can help to position and as leaders in our industry.

We get there by the act of collaboration and information sharing, and we are successful as long as we never stray far from the idea that true quality can only be achieved through our combined strengths and efforts from the work we do together.

I wish all of you could see the company everyday from my perspective. Because what I see are big goals being achieved by teams working together in ways they can’t always see. And I see the potential for even greater coordination so we can bring a set of products to the marketplace that will have a direct impact in people’s lives.

Slide 3: Ways in which you can help to make our product better at every opportunity
Drop into the monthly pre-release meeting to better understand new features prior to our release to customers. If you cannot attend the meeting during the scheduled time, feel free to reach out to set up a time to go through the software with me that works best for you
Report bugs or unusual states through clubhouse, the QA Slack Channel, or directly to me If you see a bug, or unusual behavior when using the software capture as much information about the flow you engaged in so that you can relay it to me in person or through clubhouse
Be an early adopter and user of our software Volunteer to take a look at our mobile app early on to offer feedback on usability or bugs encountered while working with it


I’ve always found making a talk interesting can be a challenge - especially when you may be talking to people about a subject that they a) have little interest in and/or b) have limited understanding of. The best advice I ever took about presenting was to try and keep each slide focused on one “thing”. I.e. bullet points are great and can be useful when used sparingly, but if you find you have a slide deck with more bullets than an NRA meeting, it may be over complicating things.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the deck that I saw that originally inspired me but this spotify one follows a similar 1-thing-per-slide approach, just to give you a sense of what I’m on about:

So, for your presentation, perhaps you could look at breaking each of (or chunks of) your paragraphs up into a message and delivering it in a similar way? I think what you have lends itself to this to some degree already.

(Also, when delivering, don’t imagine everyone naked. But do believe that everyone in the room wants you to do well, so instead, try to think of everyone there as your friend, willing you on. And certainly spare a glance towards people you know are supporting you; this helps more than you’d think.)

Hope this is, if not useful, at least of interest!

1 Like

That is great advice, thank you, and thank you for the link!

1 Like

find a support friend to look at…and know your slides, so you not as such “reading” from them.
I would also decide now if you will have a q&a at the end of the session or as people think of them. I prefer the q&a as I go through slides, as it makes it more interesting.
if you can find company examples or real world examples it helps to make it more interesting


The talk went really well, and definitely established me as a leader in my company. Thanks for all the advice! public speaking is not my strong suit but its great to be able to practice it.


You might find creating videos is a way to help. E.g. you could create a YouTube channel or Twitter account and do videos talking about testing.

It doesn’t have the direct audience but you are still talking to people about testing topics.

1 Like

This would be a stretch for me but it is a good suggestion, thank you

Nice that you were so open. I use to get red /embarrassed /nervous all the time / not sleep well before- for me, it’s just about doing it more and you get use to it over time. Some top tips are spend an enormous time preparing. Second tip is to go at a good pace, take pauses and breaths and make it interesting.
Have you done the talk now? If so, how did it go?

1 Like