How to deliver a technical talk as a developer

A techie's guide to public speaking


4 min read

Most developers are introverted, and most emerging developers are more focused on learning technical skills. Sometimes we trade soft skills like public speaking for the technical side.

Why should you care?

Software development is a team sport. As a developer, you must collaborate and work with technical and non-technical teammates. You have to explain your code and design and communicate your approach with others. Sometimes even convince the team to follow your lead. Believe it or not, good developers are great at presenting and sharing their ideas. And you can too.

Public speaking is a way to build that critical skill. Here are a few more reasons we should build this skill as software developers.

To share knowledge and expertise: Developers often possess specialized technical knowledge and skills that can benefit their peers and the wider community. Public speaking provides a platform to share this knowledge and expertise with others, helping to improve the overall quality of software development. This knowledge can be shared in any form, but speaking is one of the quickest and easiest ways to share knowledge.

Connect with people and grow your career: Sharing your technical knowledge through public speaking is one of the ways to connect with people, especially if you're doing this at a conference. You allow people to see what you know quickly and can offer. This is one of the easiest ways to get a job as an emerging developer.

To build a personal brand: Public speaking can help developers build their personal brand and establish themselves as experts in their field. This can lead to opportunities such as conference speaking engagements, consulting, or job offers.

Everybody is scared of public speaking, including professional speakers. It is said that 95% of humans fear public speaking - so relax. You got this.

Where should I start?

Watch public speaking videos and online courses: Many online resources, such as TED Talks and online courses, are available for learning public speaking. Watching these videos and courses can help developers learn the basics of public speaking, including preparing and delivering effective presentations.

Watch tech & conference talks: The best way to get better at this is to learn & other technical talks. Learn how they build their content and storylines to engage the audience. You don't have to be funny. Here are some good technical presentations we like

Practice regularly and seek feedback: Like any skill, public speaking requires practice. Software developers can practice their public speaking skills by presenting at internal meetings, speaking at user groups, recording themselves, and watching the playback. When you practice, share with others, and ask for their feedback, feedback will help you make corrections and improve your public speaking.

Join Tublian Twitter space: Tublian will be hosting a Twitterspace on 23rd March 2023 on this topic. Join us. We will discuss "creating and delivering technical talks."

Click the link below to set a reminder:

How to prepare for your first public speaking?

These steps have worked for me; you can apply them to prepare your presentation.

  1. Brainstorm on a topic: This is the first step. You can get topic inspirations from what you're currently learning, popular questions you see people ask, latest released frameworks or libraries.

  2. Describe the problem: Describe the problem in simple terms. You can rarely get it wrong when you keep it simple. People won't find it difficult to understand and follow through with your presentation.

  3. Please explain how you solved the problem: Use questions like, what I was doing wrong, what I did right, what worked, what didn't work, and what you learned while solving the problem. This is the fun part of the presentation ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Document the resources used in solving the problem: Share links to materials, youtube videos, and documentation used in solving that problem.

  5. Call to action CTA: what do you want your audience to do at the end of your presentation? Do you want them to try out a tool, follow you on social media, or like a post? This is the time to get them to do it.

P.S. Do not forget to keep the number of slides small.

Where to Present?

Classroom presentations: For students, having a technical presentation for your classmates is a good try, it is also an excellent place to start.

Lunch and Learn: this helps you present to people you are unfamiliar with, and it is an excellent way to prepare yourself for presenting to an audience.

Meetups: Developer and community meetups are good ways to get into bigger events. They have a smaller audience and help prepare you for presenting at conferences.

Apply for conferences: At conferences, you're talking to a larger audience, who are probably professionals. Presenting at stages like this will help boost your portfolio and get you more speaking engagements.

With these steps, preparing for a technical talk is very easy. So get at it, and don't forget to join Tublian spaces to learn more about public speaking.