Lara Hogan on Demystifying Public Speaking

Lara Hogan is an Engineering Director at Etsy and the author of Designing for Performance, Building a Device Lab, and Demystifying Public Speaking. She champions performance as a part of the overall user experience, helps people get comfortable giving presentations, and believes it's important to celebrate career achievements with donuts.

Based on her book "Demystifying Public Speaking," Lara Hogan will talk through the process of writing, practicing, and getting feedback on a talk! Tactics will include:

Choosing a topic on which to speak
Holding your audience's attention
Teeing up helpful and actionable feedback
Preparing yourself for the event
Eating a donut

Come prepared with your questions. We will have time for Q&A. Please ask in #techspeakers irc channel, or drop questions in the etherpad.

Start time:
Location: SFO Commons
Duration: 49 minutes
Channels: Main, Tech Speakers

Tags: techspeakers, public speaking, masterclass, mozilla tech speakers, moztechspeakers

Views since archived: 652

- Hi everyone, thank you for joining us today.

My name is Havi Hoffman,

I'm from the Developer Relations Team.

I'm here in the San Francisco office,

and for all you folks out there in Air Mozilla land,

it's my great pleasure to kick off our

Winter 2017 Mozilla Tech Speakers

Masterclass Season with Lara Hogan.

She's an Engineering Director from Etsy,

she comes to us today from New York,

and she's the author of several books:

Designing for Web Performance,

Building a Device Lab, and today's topic,

Demystifying Public Speaking.

Lara will talk for about 40 minutes,

please save your questions till the end,

we'll have a great Q and A session.

And now without further ado, let me introduce Lara.

Thank you. - Thank you!

(audience clapping)

Hey everybody, and hello everybody in Air Mozilla.

It's actually super-cool to be here,

especially working with a company that invests in

people who work here to help them get up and speak.

Very rarely have I been able to talk to a company

that actually is thinking about this stuff,

and helping to encourage their folks

get up and do this stuff, so I'm super-jazzed to be here.

I've chosen some specific talk topics for today

based on the information that Havi shared with me

about the other stuff that other Masterclass speakers

are covering, to make sure we don't

do lots of duplicate work.

I've basically picked

and chosen some stuff from the book topic,

Demystifying Public Speaking, that felt most appropriate

to share with you all here today with my speaking voice,

rather than the reading voice.

So, definitely feel free to ask me questions,

not just about this stuff, but about anything else

that may peak your interest while we're here.

Again, questions at the end.

So, this is a picture of me giving my first big talk,

it was to a crowd of more than 400 people.

I was invited to come and give a talk about web performance,

and a few days before the conference started,

I took a look at the website, and I realized,

I was scheduled actually to do a keynote,

and no one had thought to mention that that was the deal.

So I actually, I revamped the content,

I made it a little more accessible for a broader audience.

And then as I was standing by the side of the stage

waiting for them to introduce me, I started to realize

they had actually invited the wrong person.

They began to read the biography

of someone who definitely wasn't me

as they were introducing me to get on stage, and I realized,

oh no, I'm like literally an impostor up here.

Look at my face, I'm in so much pain!

Poor Lara.

But that wasn't the end, I kept on going.

I continued to give talks on web performance,

and on other topics a bunch.

There's no good reason why I kept on doing it,

other than like, I thought to myself

"This can't get worse, right?

"This could only get better from here."

So, I've had the privilege of giving lots of talks

to lots of different groups of folks,

different sizes of audiences,

and I've gotten a handle on what feels like

to get up into a physical spotlight

and say some prepared words to someone.

But I do wanna highlight that public speaking

isn't just about conference talks.

It's about any moment when you have this spotlight on you,

and you have to say those prepared words to some people,

hopefully without bursting into tears,

or puking on yourself.

And we do all of this in our industry already,

we're already doing things like

talking about code in-person, and having team standups;

asking your boss for a promotion,

maybe pitching a project to your team.

Our designer friends out there

will be thinking about giving design critiques.

We're already doing this stuff,

it doesn't have to just be in a conference setting,

or a meet-up setting.

So, everything that you already do day-to-day

you can utilize those skills

for the physical spotlight when it happens.

I do also wanna highlight that most of us get nervous

when we're in the spotlight.

So, I'm gonna guess that the majority of people

viewing this today, get a little bit anxious

when they think about public speaking.

There's a famous survey that found that

Americans fear public speaking

more than heights, or spiders, or death,

but this is true just for not Americans as well.

The public speaking fears, I think, rattle our industry,

and I know that all of you are excited

to get up and do public speaking,

that's why you're watching this talk.

But I do wanna see

if some these fears might resonate with you.

So, we're not gonna talk about

how to write a good presentation, or a slide deck.

What we're gonna focus on is what will help

prepare you, as an individual, to get into that spotlight.

I'm gonna walk through some different tactics

that work for different kinds of people

based on fears of being judged, or fumbling our words,

or making sure we don't trip and fall

as we get on stage, which is my personal

number one fear about public speaking.

I'm also not gonna ask you

to sound like you're giving a TED talk.

I'm not gonna talk about public speaking rules,

because I think that having a homogenous group of speakers

isn't the point.

I wanna help you bring what you being to the table here,

your strengths, your fears, your weaknesses,

all the things that you wanna share with the world.

So again, there's a lot more to be said

about public speaking than what I'm gonna cover today,

so I've chosen a few points that are relevant

for the kinds of talks that you might wanna give.

So, we're gonna talk about finding the right words to say,

and how to practice them.

We're gonna spend a lot of time talking about feedback

because it's crucial not just for these spotlight moments,

and then we'll cover how to prep for your spotlight moment,

and then we'll talk about celebrating it.

What you choose to focus on in your talk

is the product of many things:

the content that inspires you;

the level of depth you're comfortable sharing;

and what you learn as you take your topic

for a test spin with others.

At the end of the day, what we're aiming for

is a fruitful topic that you feel

really comfortable giving a talk about.

So, let's talk about how to brainstorm

from the work that you're already doing day-to-day.

In my case, I was doing lots of web performance work,

I was speeding up company websites.

And I started to tell co-workers

about how fast I'd made the mobile version of the site.

And then I started practicing

talkin' to my boss and other higher-ups,

again, kind of like informal conversations.

Workshopping the idea of how we were doing this work,

and how it was actually making an impact for our customers.

I started to write about it on the company blog,

and then through writing and having these conversations,

I got more comfortable building up a narrative,

building up a thesis statement.

What was the point I was trying to make?

What were those questions that I was fielding,

other than in blog comments, or just from my boss?

And how could I address those

that I kept on iterating on this topic?

So, what do you spend large amounts of your day

thinking about, or working on?

Large projects are great sources of inspiration,

because they feature so many facets

that you could shine up for a talk.

No matter what facet you choose to tools,

or human stuff, or problem-solving,

your future audience has probably felt,

or can identify with a number of those challenges.

So, maybe you wanna give a how-to

on how you learned to code for a project,

or walk through how you chose one tool over others.

Maybe your project received feedback

from stakeholders at the time, and you wanna share

how you wanna get buy-in earlier next time.

Or maybe you'll talk about

initial bottlenecks to your project,

like deciding on and coordinating an approach

that works for all of the teams that were involved.

Each of these possible topics contains a relatable story,

an inspiration, a demonstration,

or a new approach for someone in your audience.

I do wanna highlight that your topic

doesn't have to be the most inspiring,

thought leader-ing idea in the universe.

So, even though I've branched-out into speaking on

deeper and more technical topics,

I know that audiences get the most

out of my inter-level talks, because most often

that content is entirely new to them.

I find that they're super-engaged during Q and A,

and they highly rate my talks that are 101 level

after the conference concludes.

So please remember, inter-level or 101 level talks

they're a terrific way to gain practice.

The information often applies to

a broader spectrum of job roles,

so people wanted to learn this stuff,

and they're versatile and they can be tweaked per audience.

And also, conferences are generally eager

to have this foundational knowledge

to set the stage for future talks to come.

All right, so this is the section of the talk

that covers people who have fears

about fumbling your words, or being boring, or rambling.

So, creating a solid structure of your content

is the best way to guide your audience thought that topic.

Structure helps set the expectations for what's next,

helps strengthens your arguments,

and helps keep folks more engaged.

It also gives you a foothold if you are worried

about losing your train of thought.

So, while not a requirement,

juiciness is an angle to consider as you vet your topic.

A good hook is gonna help your odds

make it through that conference proposal process.

Sample juicy aspects and scenarios might include

timeliness or newness, so is this technology,

or an approach to your work,

the kind of thing that's hotly-debated online?

Are you providing new data on how tool X-Y-Z

is a much better tool than A-B-C in certain conditions?

Or were you tasked with making big decisions

that were fairly political like requiring someone

to overhaul their design work flows?

Or getting buy-inners

to a mobile strategy for the first time.

Or were the lessons that you learned during your work

counterintuitive, or contrary to best practices.

So as an example, at Etsy we ended up finding

that continuous scrolling

converted really poorly for our users,

we implemented pagination.

Which is not something

I've ever seen another e-commerce company do,

and it was really helpful for us to talk about how

we kind of went against the grain of best practices

because it was found best for our users,

it was a juicy topic.

So, if you have a solution to something

that might be efficient,

but also might flabbergast some folks,

definitely consider that for juiciness.

When we get nervous we often try to jump

right into what it is that we're trying to communicate.

But it's important to set expectations at the top

for why am I here in this spotlight?

So, even before you jump into your narrative structure,

or your thesis, make sure it's clear to folks in the room,

what are you gonna cover?

Why this is important to you or to them?

What do you hope that they will walk away with?

By setting expectations up front, your audience,

no matter how big or small, will be primed

for what it is that you wanna say next.

You'll open their ears and their brain,

and you'll make it even easier for your information to land.

So, as you develop your confidence structure,

figure out what to include that's actionable or inspiring.

What will your audience, again, your boss, your team,

or a crowd in front of you,

do with the information that you're sharing?

Is it clear to you what their next step should be,

and will it be clear to them?

How much will you have to tee-up that information,

and can you do that in the time allotted?

Will you have to do a tremendous about

of explaining your context before you can get to your point?

There's a chance you're gonna need more than one talk,

more than one meeting, a link to external info

to make sure that people can understand

what you're trying to communicate,

and go and do some more research afterwards

if they're really confused by it.

I also wanted to like take a moment and just highlight

the stuff that I'm talking about,

like setting an agenda at the top

and making sure everybody has shared context.

This is a tremendously meta-experience

to be talking about public speaking,

so I apologize to other speakers you'll see in the future,

you'll probably be analyzing them and me right now,

with how well we're doing

the kinds of things that I'm talking about.

So, let's talk about structure.

This could look like telling a story

to get your point across, or like a thesis statement

supported by a bunch of arguments.

Once you have that main nugget you'd like to communicate,

think about what you'll need to back it up and make it land.

So, I'm gonna walk through

basically the structure I'm using today,

again, that thing of being really meta,

but the structure I generally like to use for my talk topic.

So, I start with a landscape, so here's what exists:

for web performance it was sites are slow often.

The analysis is "Here's what I see."

So, in a case of web performance, I can say like,

"The sites are slow,

"and I've noticed this is bad for users,"

or there are studies that are here that back up my point.

My problem statements are, "At the core is this issue.

"Here's some options for what we could do about it."

I like to list a bunch of options

that people won't even want to include,

that way I can prove why my point,

my option that I'm suggesting is the best.

So, here's the best option, and why it works.

Here's why you should believe me.

And my favorite part is why does this concept matter to you,

even if it's irrelevant to your particular day-to-day job?

So within the context of web performance,

I would often say, let's say you have to get

buy-in at your company to do something

that people don't wanna do.

I can talk about it in the context of web performance,

it's important to get my company to care about site speed,

but maybe web performance isn't the thing for you.

Maybe it's getting translations,

maybe it's mobile development, something else.

I make sure I cover something along these lines,

to make sure that there's this bigger idea at the end.

So in this narrative structure,

we are kind of here now, and we're also kind of here,

you'll see that I'll weave

back and forth through this topic.

I've built this talk so it resonates

with different kinds of people

struggling with different kinds of needs, or fears,

and also different kinds of spotlights.

So, once I determine that my point was

that we all can and should be able to

use our fears about public speaking

to push us towards that spotlight,

I workshop this narrative around it to support it.

In this case also, I specifically tried to find out

what needs Mozilla has,

and what would be most beneficial to you to talk about?

And again, I workshopped

this narrative structure around that.

So, once I have the basic structure nailed down,

I iterated on that narrative to make sure

it wasn't just a dry list of information.

Because just saying words at you

doesn't mean it's gonna land.

You could list your work to your boss,

and hope that they just understand

that's why you deserve a promotion,

but you know you need to do a better job than that.

So, let's talk through the stuff we can do

to level-up our content,

to make sure it's not just informational,

but has that chance of landing.

You may think it's smart to tell a joke.

Firstly, jokes are terrifying,

don't feel like you have to be funny, just be yourself.

But in the drier parts of any talks that I'm giving,

I'll see what I can incorporate to spice things up.

In this picture I'm telling a story

of when I didn't document an icon font well.

This was a whole narrative about editing fonts

to make sure that the site loads fast.

And my part of that web fonts was really boring,

it was very tactical, so what I started to do

was tell a story about how we had this bug in Etsy,

it was an icon font bug.

Instead of the half star GLIF,

IOS was choosing what it thought was the next closest icon,

which in our case was a horse head.

This actually showed up for a bunch of our users,

and it caused maybe the most hilarious bug in Etsy history.

So, I didn't need to tell that story,

it wasn't entirely relevant about how to make fonts fast,

but it definitely was relevant enough

that it was able to carry my story through,

so I was able to keep folks laughing and engaged.

I laughed and that makes me a better presenter.

People are more likely to listen to me

when I'm smiling and laughing on stage, right?

So, telling this story helped make sure

that stuff was landing

and people would stay awake for the rest of my talk.

So, I do this throughout my spotlight moments,

it can be subtle and secret,

like adding a Post-it Note to your laptop when you open it,

with a message from your partner.

Or a picture of someone or something,

like Buttercup the sloth, that makes you smile.

I recommend trying to weave it into your narrative

as appropriately as possible, again,

we don't wanna distract our audience.

So, when I talked about that horse head,

or these pictures of sloths,

I make sure that I'm grinning and laughing,

but also not distracting my audience.

Again, when I do these things it's important

to make sure that we're incorporating humor,

or imagery, or other things, not just aren't distracting,

but also aren't triggering to folks.

The last thing you wanna do is alienate folks

by using a meme, or some sort of imagery

that's gonna be triggering or distracting to folks.

I wanna make sure you're double-checking this stuff,

so I often run all of my presentation slides and images

past a bunch of co-workers and just gut check.

Does this make sense?

Is this distracting?

Might this be triggering?

Might I not know the history of this meme?

Those are all good questions to be asking yourself.

I also wanna highlight that you have this soapbox,

and you should be using the soapbox for good

when you're getting up on stage.

Make sure that you are not just using

a homogenist group of images.

There's tons of resources out there

to make sure you're using images

of a diversitive humans, doing diversitive things

or diversitive animals doing diversitive things.

Because you know, again, we have this soapbox,

we should be using it for good and inclusively.

Speaking about inclusiveness,

triple-check that your content is easy to see and to scan.

Your audience shouldn't be spending more energy

parsing tiny or low-contrast text,

rather than listening to your message.

So, pay attention to type bases and colors,

too many of either can distract your audience.

And use color accessibility tools,

you can check color contrast and also sizes of fonts

to make sure that everything that you're doing

is readable with people

who have low visual needs, or are blind.

So taking steps to improve readability

can help everybody in your audience.

Test your slides from a distance,

sit in the back of the room that you're practicing in,

and make sure that on any projector

it'll still be able to be read.

So next, take it for a test drive,

make sure it resonates with others.

I usually, again, start out by writing.

I will write a blog post, or a series of blog posts

to kind of iterate on my thought process

for a future presentation.

I won't make it explicit

that it's for a future presentation,

but I'll open up to comments or to Twitter questions,

and I'll see what I get back.

I was trying to start and notice

which stuff resonated the most?

Which quotes were Tweeted the most?

What were people asking me questions about?

Can I make sure that I'm clarifying

that again in the future?

Doing this process of writing and sharing online

is helpful to me, and it may be helpful to you

if you do enjoy writing.

If you don't, consider giving a mini-presentation,

like over the water cooler,

or talking in a meeting that you have about this talk topic.

Start to talk about it, ask people questions,

see if the word choice that you're using

is making sense, and iterate on it that way.

So, as I started writing the first draft of this slide deck,

I shared it with a few organizers

of meet-ups and conferences, and also Havi,

to get their feedback.

I wanted to hear which aspects of it

would resonate with their audiences.

And then, after I had a better idea

of how my thesis could be framed,

or what kind of examples I could use to support my point,

I iterated on the basic outline

until I was ready to start doing some dry runs.

Almost all of the fears that I hear from speakers

who are both experienced,

and also people who are inexperienced,

I think that most all of these fears can be alleviated

with a healthy amount of preparation and practice.

Whether you're afraid of saying something wrong,

or missing the mark on what the audience wants,

or fumbling on stage, again,

most of all of this can be alleviated

with some amount of prep.

Build in enough time to make sure

that you have space and time

to work things out with far less stress.

No matter what the venue,

practice plenty before you're in that spotlight.

I also wanna highlight that rehearsing

is an extremely personal endeavor,

and my best advice is to start by

focusing on just one aspect at a time.

So, when you think about being in that spotlight,

which part feels the most unfamiliar?

How confident, do you know what to do with your hands?

How confident are you that you can

stay on track with your audience in a prepared narrative?

So adopt a method that allows you to rehearse and practice

just the little bits and pieces

that feel the most unfamiliar.

So for this talk, I wanted to make sure

that the flow of the content made sense,

I didn't jump around a bunch.

So when I practiced,

I paid special attention to making sure I was

building the information in a way that flowed.

And once you have those different,

individual pieces feeling good,

move on to practicing what you wanna say in its entirety.

Lots of folks instinctively stop

when they mess-up during a run-through.

We'll fumble our wording, or something,

and we'll stop and we'll have that little voice in our head

that just wants us to wallow for a minute.

We just wanna be like, "Ugh, why can't I do this?

"This feels horrible," or whatever it is.

We don't that instinct naturally to push on through,

and recover from that fumble,

but that is the most crucial part to practice.

You can't get stuck there, practice making that fumble,

and getting through it.

That way you have the confidence

once you get up in that spotlight,

that you'll be able to make it through

another fumble like that, if it happens in real life.

All right so, you've done this practice by yourself,

you've rehearsed a little bit, hopefully you've gone through

the whole thing a bunch of times.

We're gonna spend a lot of time

practicing in front of others, and getting some feedback.

Before we get into this larger practice run,

I wanna take a moment and point out

that receiving feedback is the worst.

Humans are mostly bad at giving feedback,

we're also really bad

at preparing ourselves to receive feedback,

this is true no matter the situation.

Hearing that we do something at home

that drives our partner crazy, or our co-worker,

or our boss, and most of us are paralyzed by the fear

of having these awkward conversations.

We actively avoid asking for feedback

because it's just so painful sometimes.

Or, we'll go out of our way to give nonspecific,

just generic feedback, sometimes what we like to call

compliment sandwiches like, "You look great today,

"that talk you gave was really boring,

"but you're really smart!"

That's a compliment sandwich,

we wanna avoid doing those things.

In this section I wanna help encourage you

to overcome your fear of asking for feedback,

and to help others give you actually specific,

actually actionable feedback.

I'm gonna keep on using this example

of giving a practice run for a conference talk,

but I'm hoping that these tactics

will help you in all different areas of your life

that feedback comes into play.

First, pick that crew of people

that you wanna rely on to give you good feedback.

I like to limit this at first to three or four people,

and it's helpful if they're people who you know

are already good at giving feedback,

not just people who will tell you what you wanna hear,

because that's not gonna help us out at all.

Pick people who either are

familiar with your future audience,

they have some context about

what those folks are interested in,

or the knowledge that they already have,

or the questions that they might be asking you.

Or pick co-workers

that are really familiar with your topic

that you know you wanna speak on.

They'll be able to help you come up with

super-strange, aggressive, weird audience questions

to help you practice.

Or people who you know

and you trust you can feel safe around,

who can eventually give you some really helpful feedback.

The obvious choice for getting feedback is in person,

but if practicing in front of people

is less than comfortable,

but you'd still like feedback on narrative,

word choice, or some other non-body language stuff,

consider also recording a dry run privately,

and then getting asynchronous feedback from your crew.

So, my co-worker practices alone,

records his talk on his computer,

and then sends it to others to get their thoughts via email,

this lets him dedicate time and focus

to each step of the process.

Practicing, and rehearsing, and recording that,

and then separately receiving that feedback.

But if you choose to practice your words in person,

this is your chance to gather nonverbal feedback,

and practice reading the room.

This is a photo of two audience members

during one of my conference talks.

I hope you all feel as engaged right now as they look,

I really wish I knew what I was saying

when they were staring so intently at me on stage.

As you're practicing with others, watch how people respond.

Do they laugh?

Do they lean towards you and look focused?

Are they nodding?

Do they look confused or distracted?

By tracking this kind of feedback,

you'll develop a sense about which parts

of what you're saying are more engaging,

or move too quickly, or should be further workshopped.

Before I move on, this slide image is really sneaky.

This is, again, a real picture

from a conference talk I gave,

it was a keynote to about 2,000 people.

I didn't know these two very well at the time,

but the guy on the right he no longer has a mustache,

but he is now my boyfriend.

So when I keep this image in here,

I'm like seeing him and, "Oh, look at that cutie."

And I'm able to smile and feel more engaged,

and I present better when this slide image is up there.

It can be nerveracking to request feedback,

let alone on something as personal

and anxiety-inducing as public speaking.

It's key to set expectations for your feedback givers,

and prepare them to observe your notes.

So, do the same for your feedback crew,

give them details about the point that you wanna make,

who your audience will be,

and what kind of feedback you're looking for.

Here are just a few examples of the kinds of things

you can ask your feedback crew to think about

as they listen to you practice.

By priming their brains ahead of time, and cluing them in

to the kinds of feedback you're looking for,

you'll both equip them well to help you,

and make sure you're ready

for the kinds of things that they might say,

this is because you need

to prime your own brain to hear the feedback.

After the run-through, thank your crew,

and then take a moment to shift gears

into feedback-receiving mode.

Let your crew know how you'd like

to receive their thoughts, and when.

Maybe you're energized,

and you're ready to receive feedback in the moment,

and you just wanna high-five,

and dive right into the conversation.

Or maybe you're a little drained,

and you don't wanna receive feedback just yet.

So, I wanna remind you,

it's absolutely okay to request comments separately

and in a different medium.

Ask people to email you,

ask people to talk it over coffee later,

create an anonymous forum

for them to submit feedback to you.

No matter what helps you feel better

and more equipped to hear their feedback,

tee that up for yourself.

Remember, your feedback crew

will want to help and support you,

they wanna do this in as easy way for you as possible.

As an aside while we're talking about prepping our brains,

I wanna call up out useful tip I've picked up along the way

as I've given anybody feedback, it's called the micro-yes.

If you wanna give someone feedback,

either in a prepared setting or just randomly,

one way to make sure that they're brain is open to hear it

is to ask them,

"Hey, is this a good time to give you some feedback?"

They'll probably say yes,

nine times out of 10 they'll say yes,

and that act of saying yes

triggers an immediate physiological reaction

that helps them brace themselves

for what you're about to say.

So, getting that micro-yes primes us in the most subtle way

to absorb what we're about to hear.

I promise, try it, it really works,

especially of you're a manager, or worse,

you have to give feedback to your manager.

Just say, "Hey, I've got some feedback,

"is now an okay time to share it with you?"

It works wonders.

Have you ever had someone tell you, "You did a great job"?

If feels good for like 30 seconds.

You're like, "Oh yeah, thanks, it did feel pretty good."

But then you might start to wonder,

"What about that was good?"

Or like, "Was there anything that wasn't good?"

Or like, "What should I keep on doing,

"or doing better in the future?"

What we crave is feedback that will actually help us grow,

something to help our message land,

or for us to have more of an impact,

or to know specifically what it is that people value.

So, let's talk about getting

that kind of feedback from folks.

A company called LifeLabs developed a way for us

to think about feedback that uses suits of cards.

This is cheesy,

but this really helps you direct your feedback crew

to give you actionable and specific feedback later.

So, we're looking at general,

and then specific and actionable feedback,

positive and also negative.

Hearts is feedback that's positive, but not specific.

Something like, "I really liked your talk,"

or "You look great today," that's a heart.

Diamonds is feedback that's positive,

but also specific or actionable.

So something like, "I thought your talk was funny,

"especially this joke you made,"

or "I really liked that example that you used,

"it helped me engage better," that's a diamond.

Clubs is feedback that's negative,

but not specific or constructive like,

"I thought your talk was boring," that's a Club,

I hope you all never hear that.

Spades though, is feedback that's negative,

but also provides specific suggestions, so like,

"My mind started to wander when you were

"talking through the code, I wonder if you could shorten it,

"or provide a better visual

"to help keep the audience more engaged."

That's a fantastic Spade,

we wanna move into the specific and actionable.

I recommend using this for any and all feedback

you ever need to receive or deliver,

focus on and ask for the specific and actionable,

the Diamonds and the Spades.

Also, if you're practicing

outside of the Masterclass program,

I would definitely recommend

sharing this feedback with others,

I've seen it used in many strange,

not-presentation format that it worked beautifully.

Part of what makes Diamond and Spades feedback so valuable

is that focus on the actionable item,

it gives you something specific to respond to.

So, if your feedback crew is sharing more Hearts or Clubs,

you can use open questions,

that's questions that can't be answered with a yes or a no,

to turn their feedback back towards the concrete.

For example, "Can you help me understand

"why I should include a code example?"

Or, "What specifically about that felt boring?"

Or, "How could I make this more powerful?"

I also wanna iterate, emphasize now that

it's gonna be strange to hear me

be at this part of the presentation,

but not all feedback is valuable.

You know, probably, your audience best,

you know the message that you wanna deliver,

and you also should remember that not all feedback

needs to be incorporated.

Hopefully you've cultivated a feedback crew

that you can count on to provide

thoughtful and honest critique,

but responses are also subjective.

I think that we all know that when we receive feedback

it's often more about the feedback giver

than the feedback receiver.

So remember, as you hear feedback,

either use open questions to help them

turn that feedback into more actionable,

concrete, specific feedback.

Or just hold in your heart, and hold in your brain,

"All right, that was more about them than it was about me,

"I'll figure out how and if

"I should incorporate this later."

All right, so let's do this.

You figured out what it is that you wanna say,

and you've found your groove in saying it,

maybe you've practiced a bit,

and hopefully you've gotten some feedback

that will help you make your words

and your speaking style way more impactful.

The last leg of our journey is to figure out

which bits of our environment we can tweak

to set ourselves up for success.

Think about what clothing

would get you in mind for your moment,

what would make you feel like a superhero?

What could you wear that will make you feel

the strongest, most secure and most grounded

when you're in that spotlight?

What I'm wearing right now makes me feel like myself,

but like a slightly dressier version of myself.

It holds up to any kind of stage lights,

and if I had a battery pack clipped to me,

it would still hold up to the weight of that.

And it doesn't make too much sound when I move,

and it also hides my hilarious flop sweat that's happening,

and it looks like I'm taking this event seriously.

And again, that most important fear that I have,

which is that tripping and falling,

I'm probably not gonna fall in these shoes.

So again, think about what's gonna make you feel

the most grounded when you're standing up here.

That trip and fall fear is why I also emphasize to everyone

get the lay of the land before you stand up and speak.

So, before every conference talk I'll do a tech check,

where I plug my laptop in and test the slides,

and if possible, the remote control.

You'll probably see other speakers

doing this at conferences now.

This isn't just relevant

to people giving big presentations, though,

get to live for any big moment.

If you're in an uncomfortable setting,

and you're not sure of where the tech setup is,

go and check it out before hand.

And if this kind of prepared talk

is way out of the norm for you, take some extra time

to see what if feels like to be in that spotlight.

This is probably the weirdest part about conference talks,

there's no way to slowly dip your toes in

to knowing what it feels like to be blinded by spotlights.

So if you can, if this totally,

totally out of place for you,

get up on stage somewhere before you have to give a talk,

just like sneak up on stage,

or ask the conference organizers probably,

to sneak up on stage and see what it feels like.

See if you can see the people in the audience,

see what it feels like to be

different distances from your laptop,

see what it feels like to move around the stage.

This will help you feel more comfortable

when the actual time comes.

One time the conference I was speaking at

was completely unprepared to connect

my Mac laptop to a projector.

Thank goodness I had my slide deck and fonts

saved to a thumb drive, I was able to

load it up on someone else's machine.

I can't tell you how much better I feel standing here

knowing that I have a backup plan ready to go,

saved to Dropbox if my laptop dies.

I could just hand it to the excellent AV team here,

and it'd be totally fine.

So, if you're giving a demo of some work also remember

you may not have Internet access, or it may be spotty,

so have a backup plan.

Record a screen cast, or something else,

make sure you have a backup plan in case

all of the tech situation fails for you.

You may have seen me standing off to the side

before I got up here, I was doing a little superman pose,

which looks a little more subtle than maybe a starfish pose.

These body positions, these power poses,

are proven to be effective,

there's a great Amy Cuddy talk, TED talk about this,

it will help change your body chemicals,

and get your whole body ready to get up on stage,

or have a job interview,

or whatever else that you need to do.

So, find a corner, find a bathroom stall,

get a quiet place to ready yourself for that spotlight,

do whatever you need to get energized

and to center yourself, then get up there.

So, I'm up here, I'm doing it, I hope it's going well,

I know which parts I've kind of stumbled on,

I know which parts I would iterate on

for future versions of this talk.

I'm thinking about Q and A, I'm checkin' the time,

there's a whole bunch of things that are happening up here.

I'd be happy to also answer questions, but after.

After we're done though,

I'm gonna take a big sigh of relief, right?

Like high-five myself, maybe eat a donut.

So, let out that breath, give a cheer,

make sure you're celebrating for yourself

what the big, important things it was that you just did.

This is not a small feat.

I remember this Raquel Velez quote,

this won't be the last time

you've something prepared to someone.

And she says, "Talks don't define you, you define you.

"Talks come and go, but every single one

"will make you a better you."

Remember that trust your own gut,

do your own read on how well it went,

and take notes for yourself

on what to improve for next time.

Feedback from your audience

can be exhilarating and daunting,

so as you log people's reactions,

try to focus on the constructive pieces,

those Diamonds and Spades.

The notes that'll make your speaking style and words

even stronger in the future.

Bask in all the praise, the head nods, the high-fives.

This was from a 6th grader when I spoke at a career day,

and I would call this a Heart, rather than Diamond,

but I really do appreciate that the 6th grader

thought I was really fun and cool.

So, I mentioned just a few moments ago,

donuts I think are a crucial part

of the speaking celebration process,

and any career treatment celebration.

Years ago I found that whenever

something awesome happened in my career,

maybe I got published, or promoted, or launched a project,

I wouldn't take the time to celebrate the achievement.

I'm an achiever by nature, I have a feeling that probably

most people in this room feel this way,

not deliberately marking these moments,

can often make us feel like

we're not making any progress in our careers.

Especially with something as intangible as tech work,

or getting up and speaking on stage.

So, once I realized this was happening,

I decided to be deliberate about marking achievements

by eating one donut,

or more than one donut if it was a really big achievement.

So, the act of donut-eating has helped me feel like

I'm accomplishing my career goals,

because it forces me to take a minute

and focus on this thing, and just sit with it,

because donuts to me feel like celebration.

I started to share this idea with more people,

and I wrote a lot about it in the book a bunch

because I really want everybody else

to feel like you're making progress,

and know that you're doing this for your own good,

and knowing you're actually making progress in your career.

So, whatever your version of a donut is,

it's probably not a donut,

I know folks that for whom a hot tub and a Margarita

is their donut, it could be anything.

Make sure that you're doing this for yourself

after you get up and speak.

All right, so we're here now.

So, share your work and your knowledge,

with your boss or other higher-ups, with your team,

with your community, we do need your voice.

We want to hear what you have to teach us,

and we wanna learn from your work and your insight.

We need a broader spectrum of voices

to help us move forward as an industry.

So please, use these tactics to find a spotlight,

we are all here rooting for you.

And that's it, thank you!


(audience clapping)

You've got a question box?

- We sure do.

First of all, thank you, Lara, for coming in today.

We've had a couple of questions come in,

so I might be reading off a few for you,

if that's all right.

First question that we've had come in is,

"How do I as a speaker help to invoke

"feedback from my audience?"

- I'm gonna guess that this is probably

during an actual big audience thing.

So, there's a number of different ways

that I've seen conferences collect feedback

from their audience members, this is a great question.

Sometimes you'll have like star ratings,

on like a conference website,

people can submit after the talk.

If I know that that's happening

at the conference I'm speaking at,

I will make sure before I begin, I will say,

"Hey, don't forget to leave a rating,

"or leave me some feedback on the conference page,"

and I'll link to it,

usually I'll Tweet about it or something.

Definitely encourage it that way.

Also if you can, get to know the organizers well enough,

you can actually ask them for feedback afterwards.

'Cause they know how it went, right?

They have a good sense of how much the WiFi was being used,

people were bored during your talk,

or how much they saw engagement in other ways afterwards.

So, ask the organizers as well if you can.

- [Guy In Audience] Great.

And we can certainly share the mic

if we have some questions inside the room as well,

just feel free to raise your hand,

and we'll get the mic over.

- I was wondering if preparing for a talk like this

where there's only a few of us in the room,

and you don't really know what your audience looks like,

is different in any ways from what you do

to do an in-person conference talk where you know

you're gonna have a large crowd in front of you.

- Totally, it feels super different.

And it's funny, when I talk to folks about their fears,

some folks prefer a more intimate setting,

it feels lower stakes.

Some folks, if they can see audience faces though,

it feels way higher stakes if it's a smaller crowd.

So, everybody's different this way.

Because I've had the privilege of giving a lot of talks

over the air like we do here, but mostly at work,

it feels a lot less pressure,

because I know that there are probably some number,

some question mark number of people.

The hardest part for me, and for others I think,

ends up being eye contact.

If you've got a large group,

you can look at different areas or pockets of people.

Here I am like literally looking at every single one of you,

and hoping that I'm making eye contact

with somebody out there,

and I think that that for me is probably the most difficult.

In terms of preparation, there's not a huge difference,

other than setting your own expectations and,

not getting freaked-out if you're actually making eye,

or if people are looking like they're falling asleep.

It's way, way different, yeah.

Actually, when I was practicing this talk

in a run-through with my co-workers,

one of my co-workers fell asleep

with an early iteration of this talk.

I'm so thankful that that happened,

'cause that gave me a lot of data

and insight into the part that was boring,

that I was able to hopefully improve on.

- That's great.

I think a related question that ties in quite well

is one that we had in the Etherpad.

What strategies do you use for targeting

your technical talks to the right skill level,

when you don't have a clear picture

of what your audience will look like,

how do you find the sweet spot?

- Yeah, that's a fantastic question.

Lea Verou did a bunch of writing on this

that I learned a lot from.

So what Lea wrote was, try to aim a little bit higher

than what you think your audience

will already have experience in, or an aptitude for.

This is because if you quote, unquote dumb it down,

which is a harsh way of saying,

"Talk in more layman's terms,"

or "Include more 101 level stuff."

Audiences are more likely to blame themselves

if they don't understand what you're talking about,

but they're more likely to blame you

if it feels too 101 or entry level.

So, definitely aim a little bit higher

than you think the audience

will be able to adapt to in the moment.

They'll also do plenty of research

if they're confused about it but inspired by it afterwards,

so don't worry about covering

all of the possible ground for your audience members.

- [Guy In Audience] Great, thank you.

Any questions inside the room?

- I love his box has really shook his hand-eye coordination.

- So, I was wondering about the Etsy

infinite scrolling thing you mentioned,

can you talk about that change a little more,

and what the problem was there?

- Yeah, that's hilarious.

I didn't mean to nerd snipe you with that, I'm so sorry.

- [Questioner] What was broken?

- We still don't know actually, what specifically it was.

We have hypotheses as to why our users may

have had better interactions with the site

when it wasn't infinite scrolling, we don't really know.

You can always guess, you can do user testing,

you can interview some people with qualitative methods,

but quantitatively.

We have an in-house A/B testing framework

that we used to find this out.

There's actually a Code as Craft post

about this whole experiment what we found,

you should definitely check it out.

- Thanks. - Yeah, you bet.

(Lara laughing)

- Thank you.

And Potch in Mountain View writes,

"During the day of, what tools do you use

"to help steady your pace,

"and keep the right words per minute?"

- Totally, so for me,

when I know I get too excited about something,

I'm probably speaking too fast.

So, in my head I have a constant like,

"How excited or happy are you right now?

"Take a deep breath," thing happening.

But also, in my presenter notes, which you can't see,

I have notes to breathe, and to click,

I also have notes to pause.

So for me, I'm able to have little reminders in here

that tell me what to do,

and remind me to chill out a little bit.

I've also found that other presenters like to have

a water bottle or something else

that they can use with their hands

to take a deep breath, take a sip of water,

or relax themselves that way.

So having something handy like that is really great.

- [Guy In Audience] Thank you.

- [Havi] Okay, question?

- [Guy In Audience] Yeah, sure, absolutely, thank you.

- Hello. - Hello.

- You've talked a lot about the ideal scenario

where you have a lot of time to prepare for a talk.

But let's say you're called into a meeting last minute,

and you're asked to speak on a topic,

and you know the topic but you haven't fully-prepared,

and you find yourself just like getting flustered,

what are some tips for that?

- Winging it, yeah.

This really depends on

what will make you the most comfortable,

I think you'll know yourself best.

For me, it helps me decrease the stress level in the room

if I acknowledge the situation.

It can be really intimidating,

especially if it's very important people at your company

that you're saying this in front of.

Audiences actively root for us,

audiences don't want us to fail or to fumble,

even your co-workers I would hope

don't want you to fail or fumble.

So by acknowledging like, "Hey, this is last minute.

"I'm gonna do my best right now,

"and if we have other follow-up questions afterwards,

"I'm happy to get to them."

By acknowledging that in the room

and setting the stage that way,

people will be a lot more empathetic to your situation.

It also gives you permission to say,

"I don't know the answer to that question,

"I'll look it up after."

Or like, "I don't know the answer to that question,

"does someone else in the room know the answer?"

Or literally just like help to redirect things

back to what you know you wanted to cover,

and just say like, "I'll get to that later,

"I'll respond later," punt it as most you feel comfortable.

- Thank you. - Yeah.


- Okay, I've got one plus one from the Etherpad.

I wanted to know about giving

specific and actionable feedback to someone who,

someone like me, who finds themself rocking back and forth,

or putting their hands in their pockets,

I have trouble staying still when I'm presenting.

And there was a follow-on question from somebody else,

"What advice or what actionable feedback

"would you offer to someone who jesters too much

"as a crutch for managing nervousness?"

- Yeah, totally!

I am super-jazzed about all the questions in the ethernet.

If you don't know how many people are actually watching,

like the amount of questions and interest

is like a good reassuring sign.

The cool think about the Hearts and Stars, and I'll bring,

the Hearts and Diamonds rather, and Clubs and Spades.

I love that picture of Beyonce.

Um, here we go.

The cool thing about specific and actionable feedback is,

well there's a couple of things that happen,

by asking your crew to be framing it in Diamonds and Spades,

you're removing the judgment from them.

They're gonna be focusing all of their brain energy on

is this specific, is this actionable?

And it becomes a lot easier for them

to give harsher criticism, because they'll be spending

most of their mental energy trying not to soften it,

but trying to make it helpful to the feedback receiver.

So, when something is as personal as gesturing too much,

or moving too much, I find that using

the Diamonds and the Spades can be more of a reflection

on what is this doing for the audience member?

Here's an example:

one of the things I observed was

you shifted your weight a lot between your two feet.

I found that, for me, that was distracting

as I was watching you.

So that is, again, specific and it's actionable,

specific rather it's like,

you're observing a thing and it can be recorded on camera,

it's not just a judgment or a feeling about it.

The distraction part helps the person understand

why this is something that you're calling out,

it's not just 'cause you didn't like it.

It was literally because it was

distracting to you as an audience member.

So, coming to your second question,

what would you do about it?

First of all, I'm sorry,

practice is gonna be really helpful.

Second, watching yourself on camera.

I know no one who is comfortable

watching themselves on camera.

I cannot tell you another speaker who's like,

"I love listening to the sound of my own voice."

But definitely, I would recommend

as much as humanly possible do a talk the whole way through,

record it even if it's just by yourself,

and then watch it afterwards.

Start to pick up on what you are doing

that's having this effect, and see if there's ways

that you can be observant of this in yourself.

For me, the speaking, the breathing fast thing,

because I knew that I was doing this when I got excited,

I was able to start to observe that in my own body,

in my own brain, and that helped me to start

to improve it in the future.

I would definitely recommend if you're a feedback giver,

who is giving this kind of feedback,

don't interrupt the person,

or don't stop them while they're answering to be like,

"You're shifting your weight again,

"or you're moving your hands weird again," don't do that.

Let them get to the end, give this feedback,

and then help them do a run-through again.

- Thank you. - Yeah.

- So, you mentioned prepping your audience

during your slide deck.

Make sure I get this question correct.

Do you literally show the outline for your talk on a slide

as a way of kind of saying,

"Here's the structure for our talk,

"and here's what we'll be touching on."

- Yeah, I totally do.

In fact, I did that here, I can show you an example.

Which is sneaky, 'cause it came,

when I bolt it in here, it came later than it normally does,

look at that.

I did a whole bunch of landscape and analysis

before I got to the agenda slide, which is typical for me.

I don't wanna just start with a really dry agenda,

although the eating a donut

usually gets enough of a good laugh,

it feels a little bit of an engagement.

But I usually like to build in something like this,

even if it's not numbered.

I think,

there's another example of an image I have in here.

There it is!

Here's another example from my web performance talks.

I kept it high-level enough

people didn't have to read too much, people could scan it,

but still be listening to the words

that I was saying while I was talking over this slide.

But yeah, I definitely like to include,

literally like almost like an agenda

of what I'm gonna cover.

Because also, people are tracking in their brain

how far along you are in the talk.

Actually, it's often a stress-reliever for the audience.

- [Guy In Audience] Thank you, do we have

any questions inside the room?

Okay, we do have one more online.

- Great.

- So, you mentioned sometimes adding options to your deck,

do you ever put silly, or intentionally bad options

into your presentation as a way

of steering people towards one answer?

- Absolutely I do!

I do it usually like in really overt ways,

I try not to be too sneaky about it.

I'm like, "Look at this terrible option."

Like for instance, when we were talking back in the days

before responsive web design was really a thing,

people were including it as an option, or an site,

or just do nothing to optimize your site for mobile users.

And like, providing this either sillier,

or like less obvious options,

can be really helpful to make your point

that responsive web design is like a really smart thing.

So yeah, totally, provide terrible options,

it'll really help your point land.

- [Guy In Audience] Great, thank you, any other questions?

- Yeah I've got,

I've got one more sort of coming in off the Etherpad,

it has to do with techniques for staying true

to your timeframe and your content.

- [Lara] Yeah, what's the question?

Sorry, I paraphrased, my bad.

"What are the techniques that can be used

"to stay true to your timeframe and content?"

This comes from Tunisia, this question.

- Yeah, what do you think stay true to

means in this context?

In other words, like stay on topic?

- [Havi] I'm gonna do a little bit

of guessing. - We can guess, yeah.

- I think being aware of the time you have and filling it,

I've seen that as a question that repeats often.

So that part, but then also not being,

not going off on tangents.

- Totally.

Practice, practice, practice, practice,

practice is really helpful.

But also I will say, I get to a point in practice

where I know how much time my talk is gonna take,

so I'm able to either pad it with extra things

if I find that I'm speaking too fast, and going under time.

Or I'm able to shorten it up if say,

the speaker before me runs overtime,

I need to shorten mine up anyway.

So, practicing and having a good estimation of like

how much time you typically take on average

to cover this topic, that's really helpful

to have like a little internal clock.

When it comes to staying on topic,

the best thing you can do is know in your head

when you are most likely to get off tangent.

So for me, if I'm getting too excited about, again, a thing,

I will often go off tangent.

The first time I told the mobile icon font story,

it was not planned, I just got real excited about it,

I thought it might be relevant and get a good laugh,

so I used that joke.

It can go really well, it can go really poorly.

I think what you have to do is know your content well enough

to recognize in yourself, "I'm going off topic,"

or "I might be going over or under time."

- Last call for questions.

If there's no more questions,

we're gonna shift into donuts, everybody!

- [Lara] Donuts!

Yay, thanks everybody, this has been awesome.

(audience clapping) - Thank you!

Thank you so much, we really do have donuts in the room.

I know that's really cruel to the 60-some live stream--

- [Lara] I'm so sorry about live streamers, yeah.

Have your own donut on my behalf after this.

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