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Conquering Public Speaking (with Girl Geek Scotland)

Written by Rhona Kennedy
22/11/19 - 14:53

Girl Geek Scotland hosted their final workshop of the year at Skyscanner’s office this week. This was the third in a series on public speaking, aptly titled “Find Your Voice” – I missed the last two but that didn’t stop me enjoying this one! 


First up, the Girl Geek leadership team conducted an “Ask Me Anything” panel – with the loose topic of public speaking lest things get a bit too reddit-esque! Sam, Gail and Anne-Marie are probably testament to the idea that nobody actually likes public speaking (at least not when they start out!) but it is something you can become good at with a bit of practice. 


Some really great tips I took from the leadership team’s panel:

*Public speaking is horrible but it gets easier with experience – try, try and try again!

*Not an easy one but try to care less about what people think.

*Equally, know that the audience is on your side and want to hear what you are all about (and they’re also probably glad it’s not them speaking!). 

*Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and try not to be too bothered if you do stuff it up (it’s actually endearing to have a bit of personality). 

*There’s no need to create a full presentation/talk from scratch each time – feel free to re-use bits or even entire talks. 

*Try less stressful types of public speaking first to ease yourself in – introduce another speaker, host a small Meetup, find a friendly event like Girl Geeks…work your way up to the big show! 


We also had some guest speakers; Sy brand and Ewa Grabowiecka from Global Diversity CFP Day. For the uninitiated (i.e. me 48 hours ago…) CFP stands for call for papers and Global Diversity CFP Day is all about helping underrepresented groups to speak up – in Sy’s words “nobody wants a #manference” and it is important a) for folk from underrepresented groups to be heard and b) to know that they do have something interesting to say! 


After that we moved on to Lightening Talks – brave Girl Geek volunteers presented five minute talks on a diverse range of topics (from technical debt and how to deal with it, to emotions and their use in design, style guides and how to design your own). Our very own Erin took to the stage to demonstrate what happens when testing goes wrong. The Lightening Talk volunteers all did a great job (and kept to time so I didn't feel like a baddie since time-keeping was my job!).  

And so Girl Geek Scotland are celebrating the last event of the decade – but also the end of an era with Anne-Marie leaving the leadership team. She’s moving to Canada and I know she’ll be missed by everyone at Girl Geek!


I’m excited to see what Girl Geek have in store for 2020!