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- Hi, everyone.

I'm Havi Hoffman from the developer relations team,

and it's my great pleasure today

to kick off the first master class

of Mozilla Tech Speakers' Phase Two Summer Pilot.

I want to welcome you all, including the tech speakers

who are dialed in from many countries and many time zones.

And I'd like to introduce our guest speaker, Jen Simmons,

my colleague from the developer relations team.

Jen is a Mozilla designer advocate

and host of The Web Ahead podcast.

Thank you.

- Thanks, Havi.

Thank you to everybody, Mozilla, who's making this happen.

And everybody who showed up today to be our live audience.

I started my career in theatre, and I love theatres,

I love making magic, and the magic

that can happen on a stage.

But I always liked running around in the dark,

running around in the blue light, hiding,

making things happen, being under the stage,

building the stage, hanging lights on the stage.

But one show I was the stage manager,

and one night that director called me up

onto stage right before we opened, opening night,

he wanted to get the cast together and rally,

and you know, say thank you to everybody, and sort of,

you know, be like the football coach before the big game.

And then he wanted to call me up onto stage

and thank me and give me flowers.

And I remember being absolutely petrified.

I'd walked across that stage a million times,

I had built the set on that stage,

but just the idea of him looking at me

and all these people looking at me,

and there are like 20 people,

terrified me, absolutely terrified me.

I don't remember if I said anything, maybe I did,

I just remember being so desperately embarrassed,

and completely overwhelmed.

In fact, I used to be terrified all the time.

Not just on stages, but basically all the time.

Sometimes I try to explain this to people who know me now,

who've known me just for the last five years or so,

and I don't think that they necessarily believe me.

And I don't mean that I was kinda quiet, or shy,

or a bit nervous, I mean I was absolutely scared to death.

I was one of these people who couldn't go to a party

and figure out how to make small talk.

Who was just, the whole time, thinking about,

oh my god, what should I say?

On no, what am I, ohh, ahh.

I didn't have clue.

I remember riding around the backseat of a friend's car

completely mute, trying to think of things to say.

Like, do I talk about the weather?

I don't know, do I talk about the building we just drove by?

I don't know!

I was so scared.

And there were good reasons for this,

it's not my true nature to be like that,

I don't think that that's how I was,

it's because of how stuff that happened to me as a kid,

in the ways that I was bullied, in the ways

that my parents, my mother was horrible.

And if I stood here and explained to you all the stuff,

told you all those stories, you would know,

you would make sense why I was just absolutely terrified,

afraid that I wasn't gonna say that right thing,

and afraid of the consequences if I failed.

And talking to a group of people

made it just that much harder,

especially a big group of people.

It's hard to speak up in a meeting,

this is something that we all, I think, experience.

It's harder to run the meeting,

and it's harder yet to stand on a stage.

Especially the bigger the stage and the bigger the audience,

it's not an easy thing to do, we all get really scared.

So I have four steps, this is Jen's Fabulous Magical Formula

for how to write a talk.

Right?

So first, realize you have something

to say to a particular group of people.

So what is it that you wanna tell people?

What is it that you have to say?

Whether it's a formal presentation that you're doing,

or whether it's running a meeting or

presenting something in a meeting,

and who are the people that you're talking to?

You wanna keep that in mind,

what is it you have to say, who are you talking to?

Two, you gotta find a place to say it.

Maybe you're invited to speak at a conference

or you apply to speak at a conference.

Maybe you plan your own event because no one's inviting you,

and you wanna have your own event.

Maybe you call the meeting with your team

'cause you have something you wanna talk about.

Or maybe, I've been doing this a lot recently,

you go to All Hands for Mozilla and you just

hunt down the people you wanna talk to.

(laughing)

And you do your presentation to one person in the hallway.

While you're balancing your laptop,

if you even need a laptop.

You gotta find a place to say what it is

that you've figured out you wanna say.

And then you prepare, right?

This is not complicated.

Prepare, number three.

For your audience, you figure out

the best way to communicate to them.

Which sounds obvious, but I think that that's the key

to everything and I think that that's something

that we don't necessarily think about.

I think sometimes we, you don't necessarily prepare

for the audience that you have, you sort of prepare

for yourself or you prepare for a theoretical audience

rather than just seriously thinking about,

what is it that I'm trying to say,

who is it what I'm trying to say it to,

and what's gonna best convince them,

or what's gonna best reach them?

Maybe you wanna tell stories,

maybe you need to use statistics,

maybe they wanna know a bunch of

case studies of success in business,

maybe you need examples of running code,

maybe you need that code to be on GitHub

so people can download it themselves,

maybe you wanna use slides or you don't wanna use slides

or you wanna have bullets on your slides

or you don't wanna have bullets on your slides.

All of those are zillions of different

little choices to be made,

and for me the answer to that when you ask,

which one is the best choice, what do I wear?

Is always, who's your audience and what's the best way

to get your point across to them?

And then step four, you do it.

You do it, you give the presentation.

And you see how it goes.

There's a lot of advice out here,

a lot of books, a lot of blog posts

that give you all sorts of ideas about how to do this.

Do it one way, don't do it that way, do this,

don't do that, my 17 tips for such and such.

And I think some of those can be really, very helpful.

Really great advice.

Lots of good, juicy tips.

I also think that they're good when they resonate with me,

and when they help me hear my own voice better,

when they help me realize, ah,

I've been trying to get at that, and I've been not sure,

and you actually articulated a thing

that I didn't even realize I was struggling with,

but I am struggling with that, and then you gave me

three ideas of how it might, like tips

of stuff I could do that will help.

I think that's great, when it helps underline

something that you kinda already knew about yourself.

I think the way that it doesn't work,

is when you take that advice as,

that's the one right way to do things.

There is a one right way, and you need to look

to an authority to figure out what that is,

and you try to do it somebody else's way.

And when I've done that, 'cause of course,

I think we probably all have tried to do that

at one point or another, it makes me actually more nervous.

It makes me feel less empowered, it makes me

even more squirmy and not feel like I know what I'm doing.

I think that throws me off my best, and it's better,

I've found more success as I've tried to figure out

how to find my own style and figure out

what's gonna fit me best and what's gonna work for me best.

I remember when I was in, I don't know if you

had a class like this, but when I was in seventh grade,

everybody in the entire school had to take speech class.

It was so terrifying.

It was torture, really.

They made you get up and give speeches

in front of a bunch of seventh graders,

which is the hardest thing in the world.

And it was extremely prescriptive,

it was like, this is how you give a speech,

this is exactly how you should do it.

And we were supposed to worry whether

or not we were doing it right.

Several years later, I took an English class

that was in some way similar, and I remember,

this one just makes me the most, still to this day,

kind of annoyed.

This is how you're supposed to write an essay,

it should have five paragraphs, each paragraph

should have five sentences, the last sentence

in the first paragraph should be your thesis statement,

the following three sentences, the paragraph should be

an articulation of the thesis statement, three proofs,

and a conclusion of that thesis paragraph, right?

And then the conclusion paragraph.

Why?

Why?

Nobody who's an adult actually writes like that.

You don't open up the New York Times or the Atlantic Monthly

or your favorite new author's book and find

that they wrote an essay in five paragraphs.

Right?

I mean this idea that there's a proper way to do things,

that there's an official way, that someone will be checking,

somebody's gonna come along, they're gonna judge you,

and they're gonna give you a score.

That was true in grade school when you got a grade.

And many of us have had experiences like that in life,

where maybe somebody in your family, or a person around you,

or maybe in a class, is giving you this sense of

there's really a one right way to do stuff,

and you better do it.

I think being on stage just heightens that feeling,

I think that's something that happens universally to us,

but I think when you go to step out on stage,

it heightens that feeling, it gets more scary,

and suddenly, maybe you're great at being

your own self in the rest of your work,

but suddenly you go to get on stage and you're like,

oh gosh, maybe I should go figure out

how everybody else does this.

Maybe I'm doing this wrong, maybe I need

to go get me some slides with some bullet points.

(chuckling)

But I feel like the first step,

especially for any of you who have never done this before,

is just start.

Make some choices, they might be the right choices

and they might not be, but you gotta do something.

And try it.

Just try it.

And afterwards take a look and see

what worked, what didn't work.

What could you have maybe done differently?

How did it come out different

than you thought it was going to?

And how might you wanna adjust in the future?

If you're doing the same presentation again,

which I highly suggest.

It's really the only way to give a great presentation,

is that you actually give it a bunch of times,

and it's not so good the first couple times,

you just don't let very many people see it,

and then you get a bigger and bigger audience,

and maybe it's the fifth time you've given it

by the time it's sort of official,

and you've got a big audience.

It's a good way, you revise it,

you revise the thing and you make it better and better.

And if it's a meeting or even a conversation you're having,

you're trying to convince somebody

of something at work maybe,

when you come out of it, you might feel frustrated,

or you might feel like, wow I went to that meeting

to try to convince everybody we should do such and such

or use this technology, or try this new design,

and nobody's listening to me.

Nobody believes me.

Those people are so stupid. (laughs)

We're gonna go down the wrong road.

Try to think, how can I convince them better next time?

Maybe, what is gonna be a better sales pitch,

what's gonna be a better way to actually communicate

what it is that I wanted to say?

Clearly they don't see things the way that I do,

maybe there's a better way I could

articulate what I'm trying to do.

I suggest getting videos of what you're doing

and watching, you know, see if there's a way

you can get the talk video taped and watch yourself after.

I am always surprised, 'cause things I thought were mediocre

were actually really great, or things I thought

were really great were actually maybe so mediocre.

Or maybe I didn't notice that I was

talking super fast and I needed to slow down.

Or I didn't notice that I was fidgeting

the whole time, and it was very distracting.

Put some distance emotionally, watch it maybe a month later,

but get up the guts and watch yourself.

And then start looking around, I mean, I've done this,

a lot of people I know have done this,

if you wanna be a great public speaker,

and you wanna speak at conferences,

and you wanna just get up there and be amazing

and be one of the kind of top tier speakers

that we see out there so much,

then figure out who out there do you like?

Who is it that has the kind of style

that fits you, that you wanna have?

Who are the people who, every time you ever

see them give a talk, you just love it, it speaks to you?

Be like them, watch their videos.

Sit down and watch the same video three or four times

and break it down and analyze, what did they do,

how did they tell that story, what was the order

of their points, how often did they

slow down, how often did they speed up?

Not that you're gonna wanna do exactly the same thing,

but it will give you some information

about the medium of this thing called public speaking,

and why it is that you're attracted to it,

and what it is that you might wanna do.

I've learned a ton by watching other people talk,

and then even by going up to some of them at conferences,

even though I didn't really know them,

and introducing myself and asking for advice

or asking them a really specific question,

or you know, you can email them and say,

I admire your work so much, I would love for you

to watch my talk and give me some feedback.

They probably don't have time, but maybe they'll have time,

maybe they'll be happy to email you.

I've seen some people give the same one talk

over and over again, maybe on video

but frequently in person I'll see them speak

at conferences, 10, 12 times, same talk.

If it's still amazing, and I still wanna watch it

even though I've already seen it a dozen times,

then I know it's really good.

And that makes me wonder, okay,

well how did they get to be that good?

How is it that I'm not bored even though

I've seen this already 10 times?

Seek to get better at it.

Admire the form.

Trust yourself, even though you can't necessarily articulate

why you like one thing or why you don't like another.

Don't worry about that, just go with what you like.

I think the internet is an exciting place,

and I think we at Mozilla believe

that the internet is an exciting place

because you can have a voice as yourself.

You don't have to fit into somebody else's mold

in order to get access to an audience.

And that's a big deal, it's a big deal even

in face to face, you know, online communications.

But all that said, it's still

really hard to get up on stage.

It's really hard.

It's a battle, I mean, you just look

at my emotional landscape over the last 24 hours,

it's a battle to get up here.

It's easier once I'm up here,

but to get up here it's always really hard.

The days before are awful.

The weeks before.

Actually, when it's a new talk,

the months before, the six weeks before, I feel awful.

As proud as I am of the quality of the work

that I do these days and the conferences I get to speak at

and the reaction I get from crowds and how pleased I am,

they are, we all are about me and how fabulous I am,

I still get absolutely, it's hard to get up here.

So, if you're writing a new talk,

my advice, right, here's some advice.

Give yourself a lot of time to write the talk.

Start it way ahead of time.

The great talks I've gone took

between three hundred and five hundred hours to write.

Not the first version, but you know,

three, four, five times into giving that talk

before I feel like it's really done.

The arc of starting to, okay I've done it four times,

I'm happy with it, is three or five hundred hours.

So you know, make sure you reserve

three to five hundred hours.

(laughing)

Yeah, none of this is gonna happen.

None of that advice is gonna happen.

The reality is that procrastination takes over,

and you wait 'til the last possible minute

until you feel absolutely horrible

and you just can't stand yourself,

and the choice is between, I don't know,

run away to another country,

or get it together and start working on your talk.

It feels uncomfortable, it feels like

a horrible pain of death.

So why start working on this

when you could work on something else?

If you've got five weeks before your big talk,

you know, why not watch Game of Thrones on TV?

Why do you, you know, like, (laughing)

it's hard to actually make the choice to start working

on something when it makes you feel bad.

I was driving down here from the airport yesterday,

you know, not doing anything because I was driving,

just feeling how awful I felt.

Just feeling the feelings of, like, pressure,

I can actually feel it as a physical consequence in my body.

And the chatter of noticing the chatter in my head

that goes with it, you know, I'm not ready,

I don't have much to say, I don't know why Havi picked me,

I don't know what I'm gonna do,

why did I agree to do this, this is gonna be awful.

And I just confessed some stuff to you, right?

So you might be thinking, ah, yeah, I don't know,

this talk is boring, she doesn't have anything to say.

But you know, I don't actually believe that.

Those voices are not, what they're saying

is not actually true.

They're lying.

I can prepare and prepare and prepare like crazy.

I can give a new talk on a subject I've been researching

for two years and prepare for two months,

and still feel like I'm not ready.

I'm not good enough, I'm not ready, this is a stupid idea,

why did they pick me, I can't do this.

So one of the first most important steps

in escaping the envelope of utter terror

that I used to live in, because it wasn't just about

speaking it was about kinda everything in life,

was to notice these voices.

Just to notice, when I could, that the voices are starting

to show up again, these monsters, I might call them.

And the first step is just to notice the bad feeling,

to be willing to stop running away from it,

and to just feel it.

And to notice the stories to go with it

and to start questioning, it this actually true?

So it's a physical feeling, it's a story in the head,

and then it's a question, if you wanna use the question

like a sword, is this really true?

Maybe I feel horrible because I did something horrible,

and I should apologize to somebody.

Or maybe I feel unready because

I'm not ready, and I should get more ready.

Or maybe I did take a gig that's way over my head,

and it's too soon for me to be doing something like that.

But usually, especially with speaking, it's not true.

Usually these things aren't true.

So, yeah.

See look, now I'm like, panic.

'Cause my notes, where am I in my notes?

It gets easier.

Every time I stop avoiding, stop running,

stop pretending that I'm okay, and I stay still,

and I really notice, it gets easier.

And I get a little bit stronger.

And I level up, like on a video game, you go

to the next level, you do actually get better at this stuff.

It doesn't go away, at least for me it hasn't gone away yet,

I still struggle at times with all these kinds

of weirdo monster feelings and voices in the head,

but it does actually get much better.

And when I look back at the person who just

could not stand having 20 people look at her

and say two sentences back as, "Thank you,

"I'm so glad to be your stage manager,

"this has been wonderful."

How in the world is it that I now, you know,

I'm like, "Sure!

"2,000 people in a conference?

"Bring it, let's do 5,000 next time."

I think it's just this tiny, little bread crumb path

of noticing these feelings and noticing these thoughts,

and then asking, is this really true?

What is the worst that can actually happen?

If I'm not ready, and I get up on stage,

what is the absolute worst that can happen?

It feels like I'm gonna die.

But am I actually gonna die?

No.

I think about that.

I'll be like, am I gonna die today?

No, I'm not gonna die.

Am I gonna choke, and get up there

and have no idea what to say?

I've watched somebody do that one time.

I might, especially at the beginning I might've done that,

but I'm not gonna do that now, I know I'm not gonna do that.

Really the fear is that I might get up

and say kinda mediocre things,

and people might not really like it.

And then they're gonna go off

and they're gonna tweet kinda mean things about me.

And that's realistic, that's a more realistic fear.

But is that really that awful?

Like, can I handle that?

Can I handle that?

Yeah, actually I can handle that.

I'm not gonna faint.

I'm not gonna physically injure myself.

Nobody else is gonna die.

(laughing)

Right, this might sound very macabre, is that the word?

It might sounds really dark to think about these things,

but I've found it helpful.

I found it helpful to just look the fear straight

in the face and go, come on, really?

What's gonna happen?

When I turn and face the monsters head on,

they do weaken, and they do loosen their grip.

And while they whisper in my ear

that they actually wanna kill me,

they don't actually have any way to do that.

They're full of hot air.

And with tools, and with practice,

I can just get over it, I can take

everything that they have to throw at me.

And if you face these things over and over again

in your life, if you face this sort of way

of getting down on yourself or beliefs

that maybe were instilled in you from other people,

or just the nature of being human and being afraid,

you actually will start to find

these moments where you kinda laugh.

Where you're like, oh my gosh, I can't believe

I'm totally petrified again, this is hilarious.

I've been around this block before, I've done this before,

I've gone down this road before,

and all the bad things haven't happened yet.

Yeah, sure, this is the moment when I'm gonna be

an utter failure, right, uh huh, that's interesting.

It's interesting that I feel like that again.

I thought I was gonna escape this,

I thought I was gonna show up at this conference

and feel really confident because this talk is ready,

but instead I'm scared all over again.

(laughing)

If you just keep doing this noticing practice,

you'll start separating yourself from the beliefs

of those feelings and the stories,

and you'll actually start to hear yourself,

like your real self.

And you'll get all that noise away.

And that gives you power.

Over time, instead of feeling like you're trapped

in a cave where you can't even look up at people,

or you start to be able to look up at people

but you can't really look at them carefully,

or then you can, okay I can

actually look at people this time,

but eventually, on good days, you'll actually be able

to really look at people and really connect to them,

and it won't be so scary.

It's really just two human beings talking to each other.

And that voice, those voices, those feelings, that terror,

and the fact that it's really hard to get up on stage

is gonna make you wanna undercut yourself.

You're gonna wanna go up onstage and say,

hi, thanks so much for having me,

I'm really not ready today.

(laughing)

Or you just start making excuses.

I've had such a busy week this week,

I hope this okay, I hope you like this.

Just shut up, don't say any of those things.

You're gonna want to.

The examples that I just gave are kinda bad,

but sometimes there are more subtle examples,

but you're gonna wanna get up and do some sort

of a moment that's gonna undercut your power,

and it's gonna make you sound like

you don't know what you're talking about.

If you can remember, just notice,

oh yeah I want to go onstage and stall,

and not really get started, and um and ah

because I'm nervous, or go up and apologize.

Just notice the impulse, and try your best to not do it.

Of if you do it, notice that you did it,

and next time try not to do it.

Because you end up stepping out onstage,

and the very first thing you do is you tell

the audience that they wasted their time

or maybe their money in coming to see you,

that you didn't really do a very good job for them.

And you haven't even started yet.

So don't put them in that position,

of feeling bad about the choices they made.

Let's make them feel great about the choices

they made and just get in there.

I like to think of the very first sentence I'm gonna say

to try to keep myself from rambling and just say

the first sentence while I'm waiting to go onstage,

and just get up there and give that sentence.

And that helps me, this helped me a lot to just get going.

I also think that we have to just forgive ourselves

for not being better at this already.

And that helps.

Especially when you're procrastinating.

Part of the reason that we wanna procrastinate

is because we're scared to get started

and we're angry or frustrated or upset with ourselves

that we're already not better at this than we wanna be.

We're not good enough, so why get started?

Not thinking this out loud,

but just somehow that's the feeling of it all.

And it's why you stop procrastinating

when you have a super hard deadline,

because at some point there's a tipping point

where the deadline is real, you're gonna have

to get up onstage or do your whatever,

your thing that's due.

So at some point, you just have to do it or it's not gonna,

you're gonna show up with nothing ready.

So you stop being worried about whether

or not you're good enough yet and you just skip over that.

But if you can find, for me if I can find a way

to notice that I'm being hard on myself.

If I can just remind myself to forgive myself

for the fact that I'm not better than I wanna be already,

then it's like, oh okay, then I can get started,

'cause it's not so bad.

So this has all been a very slow climb for me,

I think it's a show climb for everybody.

Tiny bit by tiny bit over decades, literally decades.

Every time you do this, and you don't die, it gets easier.

Any time you can break up the fear and the doubt,

maybe it's depression or insecurities, maybe it's anger

or frustration, if you can separate those feelings

and the ideas that go with those feelings

from what's reality and look it all straight in the face,

it does get easier, and those feelings get fainter.

Pushing them away, and trying to pretend

like they're not there makes them louder.

But looking at them straight in the face

and going, are you really for real?

Is this really true?

Makes them faint, it makes them more faint.

And my whole life has changed because of these practices.

My ability to get up onstage and speak

has changed because of these practices.

And there's just nothing like

committing to another tech presentation.

To just bring it all up again and give you, me,

another chance to unveil lies and to sort of

figure this out and to keep practicing.

So that's it, that's what I have to say.

I think we're gonna do a Q and A but,

that's my "Art of Public Speaking".

Thanks.

(audience applause)

(indistinct murmuring)

- [Moderator] Q and A today?

- Yes, let's do questions.

Then I can stand here with my feelings

of inadequacy while we,

- We're gonna do a little bit of Q and A with Jen right now.

- [Jen] Yeah.

- I have a list of a couple of questions

that we curated earlier, if we'd go ahead

and take these as well.

First one, do you find it harder to speak to strangers

or to speak to people that you're familiar with?

- I think it's probably hardest to speak

in front of people who I admire greatly.

So, some of the best speakers in the industry

who I love the most, getting up onstage

when I know they're in the audience is

harder, hard, really hard.

But other than that I don't feel that

it matters personally for me whether

it's group of people I know or don't know.

Yeah, I don't know.

I'm sure for some people it makes a big difference,

I don't know that it does for me.

- [Moderator] Great.

You mentioned in your talk finding the person

whose speaking style you personally admire,

I was wondering if you could tell us

who you personally admire as a public speaker.

- So, these are the people I love,

Jeremy Keith, Mark Bolton,

Jared Spool gives great talks,

and he's been really generous in giving advice.

He sat with me one time and did a whole review

of a talk he saw me give.

Who else?

I mean, all the speakers who speak at An Event Apart

are always really great.

But I think Jeremy and Mark probably the most.

Every time I see that there's a new video,

a new talk of theirs, I just desperately want to watch it.

And especially, I mean for the structure of it.

The way that Jeremy puts an argument

together I just admire so much.

- Thank you.

One more.

How many presentations, talks, did you personally have

to give before you finally felt

that you were fairly comfortable onstage?

- I don't know that I've done that number yet.

(laughs)

Like, on one level, I don't think

I've done that, I'm not there yet.

But on the other level, I don't know,

I did a conference panel in '98 or something

that was at an activist conference,

that was probably the first time I ever

did something like that at all.

I don't know that I spoke more than

three sentences the whole time, 'cause it was a panel.

And then I did another panel in like 2005,

and then I did some WordCamps in 2008

and some Drupal Camps in 2009,

and then I did Drupal Cons in 2010.

I think 2010 and '11 in there I was doing very much

of a get on the plane, make the slides

while I'm on the plane, 'cause that's

what everybody does for Drupal Con.

Slides with bullets in them,

doing my best, always about technology.

But then I wanted to get better, so I started talking

about broader topics in Drupal

and just studying other people more.

And so 2012, I think, I did a talk at South by Southwest

for 1,000 people that I worked really hard on.

And that lead to An Event Apart,

and it didn't go as well as I'd hoped, you know,

I wanted to that be the beginning of the career

that I basically started last year,

so 2015 maybe 2014 before,

so it took like another two more years

of just leveling up, leveling up, leveling up.

So I don't know how many talks,

I mean maybe, I don't know, three years worth

of talks doing a couple a year before I felt like

I was at a level of professional speaker where people

would pay me to come speak at their conferences.

But there's all this space before you get to that place,

where it's great, where it's lots

of camps and other kinds of things.

But then again, you know, you might say,

oh I'm at a place now where I feel like,

wow I'm sort of on the top of the tech industry heap,

which is like, at the tiny, little, nobody bottom

of the public speaking circuit heap, you know like,

nobody knows who any of us are, we're not really that good,

you can look at other people, who are like,

you know, Seth Good, um Goodwing?

Gold?

What's his last name?

I forget.

Or some of the people who are much more famous

and the talks that they give are just a whole other level.

Whole other level.

- [Moderator] Any other questions from inside the room?

- There's one over here.

- [Man In White] So, what was your favorite talk to give?

- My favorite talk to give.

I was very proud last year when I did,

middle 2014 to the end of 2015, I did a talk called,

"Modern Layouts: Getting Out of Our Ruts."

And I worked harder on that talk than,

all the other talks I had given before maybe

at most I spent maybe 100 hours and had given them

three, or four, or five, maybe six times.

And that's the one I spent probably 500 hours

on that I gave 15 or 20 times or something?

I don't know, a whole year and a half

I kept doing the same talk.

So the first third, the first six months

or even the first year, I was like ehh,

I'd give it a couple times.

And then the second half of that time period

I gave it many, many times, I was really proud of it.

So that became fun.

I realized, oh it becomes fun once you get

to a certain amount of having done it.

And then I'm doing another talk like that this year,

so the talk I'm doing this year,

the process was very much the same.

In the amount of effort, in the kind of way I approached it.

So, I don't that I like one of those better than the other,

but I really enjoy what I'm doing now.

- [Man In White] Thank you.

- Any other questions from inside the room?

Alright, we have a couple of questions

that are coming in from IRC.

Question for you, do you recommend

completely memorizing the structure and flow of a talk?

Are there any benefits to the audience over keeping

a reference such as a paper or notecards or a gadget?

So, do you recommend completely memorizing,

or do you prefer to keep notes, a gadget of some sort,

and what are the benefits there?

- There was a really good blog post written,

or article written about this exact issue by, and I don't,

maybe I can find it and Havi can put it in a link someplace.

I think it was a guy who was talking about TED Talks

and procrastination and writing his TED talk

and different kinds of talks.

And he sort of listed out two or four

different kinds of talks and how to do them.

And articulated very clearly the difference between

you go to a wedding and you stand up

and give a toast, that's one thing.

Or you go and you have a slide deck and you sort of

speak contemporaneously, if that's the right word.

Or you do what you just described,

you write the whole thing out,

you pick every word very carefully,

and you memorize the whole thing,

and you either read it off of papers

like people do for a commencement speech,

or you memorize it the way that people do a TED talk.

I don't recommend memorizing it,

unless you're really good at doing that.

And you know you're really good at doing that

and you know how to do that, and you're ready to put

in the time and effort, the kind of time and effort

that an actor puts in when they memorize a script.

'Cause you basically have to write the script,

and then you have to memorize the script.

I've never even attempted to do that

because I am really bad at reading,

as some people might have noticed as I was

sort of doing a little bit of that today,

but memorizing the thing.

I think it's probably a good goal to aim

for eventually, maybe for some people,

but I think, especially in the tech world,

I don't see many people doing that.

You know, if you wanna give a TED talk,

that's what TED wants, but if you want anything else.

I'd rather, and this is what this article talks about,

it's better to just aim for that middle ground of

you've figured out what you wanna say,

you've got some kind of an outline

or speakers notes on a deck,

or some sort of a thing that's gonna

help you remember what you're doing, to follow along,

and then you just make it up,

and you say things as you're standing there.

Because you're much more likely to be comfortable

and confident and much more likely

to be able to say what you really have to say.

Especially if you're passionate.

Hopefully we're all picking topics

that we're really passionate about,

you're excited about what you're teaching,

or you're excited about what you're trying

to convince people about, and if you let that come through.

And sometimes I think people, you know,

they're trying to read, and they're scared

about the reading thing, or they're trying to memorize

and they're scared about the memorizing thing,

and then all the passion just gets drained out.

And it becomes sort of a performance of bad acting

rather than a thing about the subject of the thing.

- Absolutely.

We have another question about unresponsive,

unreceptive audiences and the questions is as follows,

How do you handle situations when you see people

who you technically look up to having that really critical

or cynical face kinda plastered on 'em when you speak?

- Yeah, I'm gonna say, I'm gonna expand that question to be,

what do you do when you can see

that everything's going badly?

'Cause that's happened a lot to me.

I've had things like a laptop crash in the middle

of the presentation, twice that's happened to me.

I've had, I think the worst was I was in this room

in Boston that was this big ballroom, a gorgeous room,

but I was talking to a group of people who were sitting

at tables with laptops, and at first I saw them looking

at me, and very quickly everybody

was doing email or on their laptops.

And no matter what I did, no matter how much

I sped up or slowed down or tried to make a joke

or make an adjustment, I couldn't get them back.

And I couldn't figure out why.

And the talk I was giving I had given before,

so I was sort of out of my body doing the talk

while simultaneously watching and going,

wow, there's something really wrong here.

Is this totally the wrong topic for this audience?

The person who hired me to come do this keynote,

it was a really bad fit?

I was so distracted trying to figure out what was going on.

And I left feeling horrible and not knowing.

And then I came back the next day just to stick my head

in the room, and somebody else was giving

the next day's keynote, and I could not hear a word

they were saying because the echo was so horrible.

And I realized, that's what happened the day before.

They could not hear me.

Maybe it wasn't good, and maybe they were bored

with the subject matter,

but also they just couldn't hear me.

That conference shouldn't have been in that room.

So, I don't know, I mean I think you just have to keep going

and if it's something you can change,

figure out what it is and change it

and if it's something you can't change,

then try not to get too distracted

by the people not listening to you.

It's bad, it's more bad feelings, but you just keep going.

I don't know, at some point it just becomes funny.

Like, remember the time when my laptop crashed

and it wouldn't restart for, like, three and a half minutes?

That was awkward.

(laughter)

I didn't die! (laughs)

Okay, now I got that on my list of stuff that happened once.

- And another question.

How do you handle the night before pressure?

Are there any secret techniques to share?

- The night before pressure.

I mean, I think that in a way,

that's what my whole thing was about.

Like yeah, it feels horrible.

Don't drink. (chuckles)

I mean, that's what some people do,

they just drink and they get onstage drunk

and I just, I'm not a fan.

I don't know.

It happens to everybody, I think.

And some of the people that I admire the most

literally have to be sick before they go out onstage.

People who have been doing this for years

and who are great at it, but I think it's common.

So advice, I don't know, I mean,

that was my advice, just notice the feelings

and ask yourself, what's the rationale behind

feeling this way, and then ask yourself, is that true?

And when some theory comes up then you go,

okay wait, is that really true?

Is it true?

Is it really true?

No, it's probably not, okay,

I still feel bad, but.

- And some of that preparation you

probably did ahead of time helps with that as well probably.

- Yeah, preparation.

I think that is the one thing that does affect how I feel.

If I prepared like crazy I'd feel much better,

if I really have not prepared.

I mean this talk was really hard

because A, I'm only doing it once,

B, I'm super busy, see here I go with the excuses,

and C, I've never done a talk in this style before.

I've always had slides, I've never sat here

with pieces of paper.

So, how'd that go?

I don't know, I'll think about that later.

Maybe I'll do that again someday, and maybe I never will.

And when I do it again someday,

I'll have had this under my belt at least

and have been a little bit better.

But I can also be a little bit more forgiving with myself

because I just did something completely new and so yes,

it was a little awkward and weird but oh well,

hopefully you didn't hate it, you're still sitting here.

Yeah.

- We have another question about tips and techniques.

It's, what do you do to grasp the audience's attention

when they look like they're getting a little bit bored

or you get a little too technical?

- I make jokes.

I don't, I'm surprised that that's what I do

but I make jokes.

I also, if something is going wrong,

I have no problem just sort of revealing,

like pulling the curtain back

and revealing what's going wrong and point it out.

Sometimes that helps and sometimes it doesn't help.

But if people are really lost, I'll derail myself

and go a different direction.

It's easier to do with smaller groups,

like if I have a twenty person workshop,

I'll just stop what I was planning on doing

especially if it's an all day thing

and just go a different direction.

If it's a big audience and a big, you know,

you got 45 minutes to the exact number on a big stage,

it's harder to do that, but yeah.

Maybe I'll cut stuff on the fly

if I realize the audiences can't handle the technical stuff.

Then I'll just simplify things.

But if I've got slides, I can't go off slides

so I still need to go on slides

but sometimes I'll skip over.

I'll be like, well I was gonna go in the weeds on that

but you know what, I'm not,

and I'll just sort of skip to the next part

and slow down in that part and explain things more carefully

and then skip the more advanced stuff and then slow down

and explain more basic stuff, if I can.

- [Moderator] Great.

- So, I have a question going back

to something you said earlier about speakers you admire

and I think you said,

"I really love the way Jeremy structures the argument,"

but can you talk a little bit

about talk structure and narrative?

How you, what you like to do or what you've seen people do

really effectively to tell their story, maybe.

- Yeah.

I think with, especially for those of us

who are doing presentations

at conferences or meetups or kind of events

about technology, so CSL, OfficeScript,

or Rust, or whatever.

We use slides, some people live-code,

I think there's a handful of people

who are really good at doing live-code

like Leah Verou, she actually wrote her own slide software

as a program so that she can stand on stage and type code

into the last, the bottom part of the screen

and it displays the code on the top part of the screen.

So she can go very quickly through a lot of code,

it's amazing, if you're interested, go look her up,

watch one of her videos.

But like, she wrote her own software (laughs)

to be a slideshow sharing software

to do the kinds of slides she wanted to do, right?

In general, I feel like

if you just sort of open up a code editor and you're typing

and people are spending a lot of their time

watching you type, it gets to be really boring.

And a better way, what I like to do instead is,

you know, in an all-day workshop it's a little easier

but when you got a tight talk, it's very,

it's not a good idea.

So, I'll do slides where

I've already written out all the code

and then I'll do a slide where like,

here's the result and it's a video.

Or maybe the slide and the code are next to each other.

And if I need to show something over time,

I'll do a screen recording of all of that ahead of time

in my apartment and then when I get on stage,

all I have to do is show the video.

I'm not actually doing a live coding.

Also, I need cheat sheets, I can't memorize everything

so I use Keynote and I put slides in on the screen

and then I put, I've got my own display,

the notes myself on my own display, of what I need,

things that I need to make sure I say in the speaker notes.

So I don't wanna mirror because if you go to mirror,

it's a big decision, to mirror or not to mirror.

Because if your computer is showing you

exactly what the audience is seeing,

then there's no place for you to have notes.

And so a lot of the HTML-based slide decks

that a lot of people like to use and it's like,

oh yeah, use web technology, use HTML, it's awesome,

I'm like, yeah except there's no speaker notes

and it's not very stable,

and then what happens when the browser crashes and like,

I just go Keynote because it's super stable,

and I can put all kinds of videos in there,

and I got speaker notes, I got timers,

I got the things I need.

Okay, wait, what was I supposed to say?

What makes great structure.

I think putting a list of the points

you want to make sure that you say

in small type on a slide with a bunch of bullets

for like a conference presentation,

not the best way you can use a slide.

I think it's better to put those notes

in your speaker notes so you make sure to say those things.

And then you find ways to use the screen on the wall

to illustrate your points.

Put up a photo with no words whatsoever.

Put up a code example, put up a result of a code example.

Put up a graph or a funny joke

that goes with what you're saying.

Sometimes I put headlines in, but they're like major points.

If I've got four major points to whatever

and I want people to hear it,

then I'll put the four major points.

Or maybe I'll just put a URL on the screen,

or I'll just put one word on the screen.

And then I'll say all the things about that word.

But I find it, especially people who use,

what's the Microsoft Word?

The Microsoft Office?

- [Moderator] PowerPoint.

- Share, the slide, PowerPoint.

People use PowerPoint, for some reason,

always wanna put bullets on all their slides.

And I don't,

I think that's okay for like a meeting or something,

especially if you're doing like a video meeting

and you've only had two hours to prepare

and you're just trying to make some points.

Maybe there's gonna be a PDF

and people are gonna read the PDF later without your talking

and they need to see the points.

Sometimes there's good reasons to use bullets, but,

I think a really great talk,

when I look at somebody like Jeremy Keith

and I look at what they're doing,

there's not one slide in the whole deck

that's got bullet points on it.

It's just,

I think some of the best decks, some of the best slide decks

are ones where, if you just look at the slides,

you have no idea what the talk was about.

Because the slides are supplemental,

illustrating the talk that's happening.

It'd be like watching the lighting cues and the set changes

for a show with no actors in the show.

You wouldn't, it wouldn't make any sense.

Yeah, so what else about the structure of a talk?

I feel like,

you know, you wanna take people on a ride.

I seem to have found a rhythm that I tend to use every time

even though, even if the topic is very different.

And if I look at somebody, like all of Jared Spool's talks,

he tends to use his own totally different,

but his own, rhythm and shape,

and Jeremy Keith's got his own rhythm and shape

and Mark Bolton has his own rhythm and shape,

like they're very, very different from each other

but they each have one.

And you can almost predict,

you could show me a deck and give me a transcript,

and I could tell you which one of the speakers did that talk

based on just the shape of the talk alone, so,

there's lots in drama and theatre and, you know,

from thinking about Aristotle, and the dramatic arc,

and the three act structure and there's all kinds of things.

But I tend to open with a story that sort of sets the stage,

I tend to define a problem and set up a problem

and then explain the solution to the problem.

I always like to fit some history in there

for some larger context, to get people to think bigger.

And then I'll pound people with code,

but I'll do a twenty minute intro,

and then I'll pound people with code for half an hour,

and then I'll do a ten minute wrap up.

But this is me, so, I don't, you know,

that's why I feel like watching other people's talks

can help you figure out your own shape and rhythm,

but it's gonna be different for everybody.

- [Moderator] Great.

- There's one in the IRC channel about talks with VR,

and it's pretty technical, but maybe the short version is,

have you seen any great VR demos given in talks

and how were they done or what,

do you have any recommendations about demoing VR

to an audience that's not wearing headsets?

- I have never seen anyone attempt,

successfully or unsuccessfully, to explain VR

in a flat screen presentation.

But it does make me, I smile because

I get so frustrated with this flat screen conference thing

because we have one screen, maybe there's two screens,

but they're the same thing twice.

And I used to do theatre and for a while,

I was doing projection design,

and I did an opera about Nikola Tesla

where we had four projectors,

seven screens that flew in and out.

We wrote our own software,

we had hundreds and hundreds of little video cues,

and we would trigger, we were running the video

like a lightboard, if you're familiar at all

with computerized lighting boards,

like, so that you could,

because it was an opera so you could trigger this cue

to start on this exact note and then this cue

would start on this note

and this cue would start on this note.

Not by robot, but by a human,

a human calling it verbally and a different human

clicking the button to activate it.

And sometimes the video cues were like loops,

and sometimes they were continuous,

and sometimes we'd have cross-fade

and sometimes it'd be a straight cut

but all the fades and crosses and all the timing

was all done live during the show.

So there's so much we could do

if the conference-event organizers could like,

have more than one projector feed. (laughs)

And I almost did that when I was keynoting for Fluent

'cause Simon St. Laurent was totally up

for doing something crazy, but then,

it was just too scary to try to do something crazy

in the middle of this giant event.

But I don't know, so VR, you know,

maybe what you really need is to not have one screen.

Maybe you need a different environment

that people can experience the story that's being told

and the information that's being given

in a way that's different.

So if I were trying to do that,

I'd start trying to break out of the

16 by 9 TV screen or 16 by 9 video projector

and see what else might be possible.

It may be there's no way because hotels are expensive,

and tech support in hotels are expensive,

and there's not much rehearsal time and it's crazy.

If you're gonna do a VR conference,

I would not do it in a hotel, I'd do it in a theatre

with projection support tech staff

in a city that knows how to do that and

do something awesome. (laughs)

- [Woman In Blue] The channel loved your answer.

- (laughs) Yeah.

- One more question coming in from IRC,

if you have time.

- [Jen] Yeah.

- What suggestion do you have

for anyone facing a speech impediment

or trying to work through a speech impediment?

- I don't know a whole lot about speech impediments,

but my first thought was like, slow down if possible.

Like maybe, I don't know,

find a way that makes sense for you

given whatever your deal is.

Impediment or not, whatever, however it's labeled.

For any of us who are terrified or scared

or have any kind of limitation, emotional or physical.

I think you have to start small, start realistic,

and do something, and then see how that went,

and do something else and see how that went,

and do something else and see how that went,

and not be afraid to really think beyond

what everybody else is doing.

- [Moderator] Sure.

- And to figure out, okay,

well everybody else does it this way, but you know what,

for me, this other way is really gonna be best.

And for many of us, just go to your local meet-up

and talk in front of seven people and see how that went.

Like, if you really are, your heart starts pounding,

and you really might have a heart attack

talking in front of a thousand people,

don't start there. (chuckles)

Like, start with seven people in a little classroom

where the stakes are really low or maybe

there's a bar camp type thing

where everybody just showed up that day

and made up their talk on the top of their head

so if the bar's really low,

I mean, that's a bad answer to go with speech impediment.

I don't necessarily assume those two things

are supposed to go together, but I was

I started to think about like,

when it seems the hardest of all,

or the most impossible of all,

just lower the bar.

And for any of us to figure out what's gonna be best for you

given your strengths and your limitations,

'cause we all have 'em.

- And we have one final question coming in,

I'll go ahead and call this the last question.

Any tips on making sure a talk comfortably fits

into the time slotted or allowed?

- Timing a talk, I could write a book on this.

So, yeah, I think it's very important

for everybody to end when you're supposed to.

And it drives me nuts, like if I,

it happened once where I had an hour long slot,

maybe it was from, you know, one to two,

or maybe it was more like from three to four,

and the person who had the slot from two to three

ran over by forty minutes,

so then I couldn't get into the room 'til like 3:40

and I'm like, what am I supposed to do?

'Cause the next person's coming in at four,

if I run over,

it was a multi-track conference.

It was just so incredibly rude.

So don't do that, especially a single-track day,

if you go over, you're gonna screw up the whole day.

It's not right, don't do it.

So you've gotta fit into the time slot that you've got.

If you've got 40 minutes, nail 40 minutes.

Expect to start on time,

I hate it when I can't start on time,

and finish on time, it's your job to finish on time.

So how do you do that?

I know a lot of people practice out loud

and say, you know, say things in their room by themselves

to know how long their thing is.

I haven't actually been able to do that,

I embarrass myself too much.

So I try to imagine, and now I have more experience,

I do have a sense of how long things will take usually,

but this is what I do,

I have slides, I have speaker notes,

I'm using Keynote like I said,

I have a sense of how long I think each slide is gonna take

and I make numbers, I put my regular speaker notes

are in black and I put my numbers in red.

And so I think these three slides

are gonna take four minutes,

then, you know, I just put one minute, minute one.

So basically the number in red on the slide in the notes

is the same number that I want

to have be in the number that starts,

like with Keynote, if you start a Keynote presentation,

it starts at zero

and then it just starts counting minutes for you.

So if I'm 25 minutes in and I wanna be on slide number 49,

then I put the word, the number 25,

and if my 25 on my timer and 25 on my slide,

if I glance and it's 25, 25, I'm good.

If I expected it to be at minute 25,

but I'm actually at minute 20,

I'll slow down a little, take my time.

If I expected it to be at minute 25,

and I'm actually at minute 35,

I gotta do something about it.

I gotta like speed up or I gotta skip some stuff.

And that's helped me because

you don't wanna find out you're going long

in the last few minutes.

You wanna know as early as possible.

So I'll know 14 minutes in that I'm going too slow that day.

Or when I give the same talk more than one,

I'll know that I guessed

that I thought this intro was taking 15 minutes,

but really it's taking 21 minutes.

So I either have to make it shorter

or I have to just move all my numbers around.

It also kind of makes for a good way,

as I get prepared every time,

even a talk I've done many times over,

the thing I always do that morning is go through my numbers

and adjust all the numbers and be like,

yep, you know, I was behind at this point last time,

so I'll just, it says 21 but really it was 24.

If I have a video tape of myself speaking,

then I'm able to like look at it and reference back

and get the numbers more accurate.

But then I always know, I know I'm two minutes ahead,

I know I'm three minutes behind,

I know exactly where I'm at.

And I can nail it.

Jeremy does the same thing, Jeremy Keith.

Alright, thank you so much everybody.

- [Moderator] Thank you, Jen.

(applause)

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