I’m slightly more experienced in speaking, but this is an area I’m really interested in. Much like Heather, I’m trying to encourage folks within my team to have a go at this, which means trying to make my approach more transparent - so it loses some of the fear factor.
How you felt when you got accepted to the conference
First of all, always elation. But it erodes really quickly into anxiety - for me my main anxiety is around travelling. Living in NZ it often means a flight, and I hate flying.
Then I go look at what I submitted - it’s usually been a couple of months, so it’s “well, what did I actually say I was going to talk about”.
How did you prepare?
I usually put post it notes of ideas all over my computer / wall as I collect all the points I want. For my last talk, I did a mini walkthrough of the ideas with two friends, like how they storyboard movies. I’ve sometimes found I’m going down a wrong alley, and had to do a rethink.
Likewise will do a dry run with my team. There is no substitute for just doing the talk in front of people.
For my TestBash talk, my son was playing a 20 year younger version of myself (I got the idea from the audiobook of The Princess Diarist, where Carrie Fisher’s daughter does the same). He benefitted from doing it in front of the team, as well as watching me deliver the lines how I’d say it - it’s a bit unique to him, as he was playing me, but reminds me a story from Harry Potter where Helena Bonham Carter got Emma Watson to act out something so she could play a version of Emma “in disguise”.
Was there anything on the day you found particularly useful
Your talk will use a little bit of energy and nerves. I cannot state enough the importance of much like going on a long drive, going for a wee before you’re on stage. Seriously, this is masterclass stuff! You just don’t want to be onstage going “I knew I should have gone before!”.
The bathroom can be a good area to just get some privacy, a little bit of deep breaths. Just remember to zip everything back up afterwards - I’ve been caught out a couple of times.
I like to try to introduce myself to a few people, and encourage folks to be at my talks. When you look out at a room, seeing people and going “I know them” helps. When I did TestBash, I remember seeing my friend Gabrielle in the room, knitting. It threw me for a moment, but then greatly amused me.
How did you feel after your talk
I love mingling with people, but I find I need a little bit of privacy when I can grab it. For me talking is so much energy and adrenaline, it feels like you come to an abrupt stop at the end. It’s nice to give yourself room to come back down to earth.