I used to be a conference junkie and I am an aspiring public speaker myself. I’ve bored people to death and I’ve been bored to death.
Here’s my 12 step guide on how to become the most boring and predictable speaker ever:
1. Come unprepared
…and turn it into a joke Explain how much hangover you have after a conference party. Recording yourself upfront, really? Or giving the same talk to your close friends before you go to a conference? What a waste of time! 20 hours of preparation for 1 hour of speaking. Who can afford that? If you give the presentation for the first time without rehearsal it feels so fresh and spontaneous.
2. Ignore the audience
Don’t show any empathy. It’s about you. You, you, you! You’re an expert. It doesn’t matter who they are. They should be at your level and if they are not, it’s not your problem. You’ve spent the last 10 years of your life mastering programming. It’s time to show off. The more stuff you can put into the presentation the better. You give them so much value. More is better.
3. Be “professional” on stage
Leave your passionate self at home. It’s not a stand up comedy. It’s programming. We’re in a serious business. Save your personality to your friends. Don’t show any emotions in your voice. Those actors exercising with cork in their mouth before getting on stage are crazy. They don’t get it. Words do matter. Children show emotions. Adults don’t. Stay cold, stay professional.
4. Don´t buy stage time with stories
Public speaking is not a movie. Stick to the facts. Those tricksters embedding knowledge inside stories waste their audience time. Strip away all stories and use bullet points. They are a default option in your presentation software for a reason. They just work.
5. Make your slides look like a document
In that way people can read them later. Also, you can’t go wrong with a battle tested stock photos of smiling people of all races and genders shaking hands. That’s a universally known symbol of agreement that enriches any business presentation. Be a power user of your presentation software. Have you discovered clip art already? Animations? Try all of them. They are there for a reason. Screen real estate is precious. Use all of it. Perfection is attained when there is nothing more to add.
6. Use a slide template from a conference organizer or your company
Someone saved you from doing lots of work. People love those templates as they add structure to your presentation. Make them remember who you work for and use your company watermark on every single slide until it burns into their minds.
7. Don´t move like crazy
Stick to the lectern. You gonna look like a priest – that’s how you gain respect. Bonus point: Standing behind the lectern you don’t need a remote because the next slide is only one keystroke away.
8. Don´t distract your audience with talking when doing live coding
Either you show them code or you talk. Don’t multitask. Let them appreciate your coding skills in silence.
9. Use all your time available
You can even stretch to the break. You give them value. So why not to give them more of it?
10. Don´t look them in the eye
Laser eye contact is creepy. It’s rude. Avoid it at all cost. Look at the wall or a ceiling all the time and you’ll look like a visionaire.
11. If it hurts, do it less often
Public speaking is unlike any other activity. It’s special. Standing on a stage is the most scary thing in the world and the fear will never go away. Constant exposure to stress and putting yourself on the line will not fix it.
12. Be vigilant
While on stage, carefully analyze what they are thinking. Most people are just waiting for you to make a mistake. If you stop talking for 5 seconds they will ridicule you. They will never forgive you any mistakes. Create those mental images of all things that can possibly go wrong.