So, you want to be a speaker? How to get started… (SQLBits should be something to aim for!)

Public speaking can be a daunting task, but it’s also an incredibly valuable skill to develop. Whether you’re speaking at a work meeting, a community event, or a conference (like SQLBits!), being able to communicate your message effectively can help you stand out and make an impact.

Here are some tips for how to begin as a public speaker:

Identify your topic and audience:

The first step in preparing for a speaking engagement is to identify your topic and audience. Who are you speaking to, and what message do you want to convey? Make sure your topic is something you’re passionate about and that you have some knowledge or expertise in.

Develop your message:

Once you’ve identified your topic and audience, it’s time to start developing your message. This includes creating an outline, researching your topic, and deciding on key points you want to make. Make sure your message is clear, concise, and engaging. This part involves drafting and creating your session title and abstract:

  • Use keywords – people need to know what you are talking about just from a quick glance
  • Highlight the benefits – What will attendees gain from attending your session? Make sure your title communicates the benefits or takeaways that attendees can expect to receive.
  • Make it memorable! At SQLBits we have themed events, so a play on words is always fun and memorable.
  • Jargon? While it’s important to use keywords related to your topic, be careful not to use jargon or technical language that might be unfamiliar to attendees. Your title should be accessible and easy to understand for all attendees.

Practice, practice, practice:

The key to becoming a confident public speaker is practice. Take every opportunity you can to speak in front of others, whether it’s at a local user group (online or in-person, they are both valuable!), a work meeting, or a community event, varying from a smaller event to huge like SQLBits! Practice your speech in front of a mirror or with a friend, and make sure you’re comfortable with your pacing and delivery. If you didn’t know, PowerPoint has a great speaker and presentation practice tool!

Prepare for the event:

As the date of your speaking engagement approaches, make sure you’re fully prepared. This includes rehearsing your speech, creating any necessary visual aids, and making sure you have all the materials you need. Do you have required technical equipment such as a HDMI cable? Bottle of water at the ready? Take a deep breath or two, you’ve got this!

Deliver your speech:

When the day of your speaking engagement arrives, remember to stay calm and confident. You have been chosen to speak for a reason, your knowledge is valuable. Speak clearly, make eye contact with your audience every now and again, and use body language to emphasize your points. Don’t be afraid to pause and take a breath if you need to. And always (ALWAYS) remember that mistakes are normal and most of the time, no one will bat an eyelid!

Follow up:

After your speaking engagement, follow up with your audience and thank them for their time. This is also a great opportunity to ask for feedback and learn how you can improve your public speaking skills in the future.

Becoming a confident public speaker takes time and practice, but it’s a skill that can benefit you in many areas of your life. By identifying your topic and audience, developing your message, practicing, preparing, and delivering your speech with confidence, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful public speaker. Good luck and we hope to see you on the SQLBits stage shortly!