Teaching Geeks The Value And Skills Of Public Speaking


April 19th, 2021

42 mins 54 secs

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About this Episode


Being able to present your ideas is one of the most valuable and powerful skills to have as a professional, regardless of your industry. For software engineers it is especially important to be able to communicate clearly and effectively because of the detail-oriented nature of the work. Unfortunately, many people who work in software are more comfortable in front of the keyboard than a crowd. In this episode Neil Thompson shares his story of being an accidental public speaker and how he is helping other engineers start down the road of being effective presenters. He discusses the benefits for your career, how to build the skills, and how to find opportunities to practice them. Even if you never want to speak at a conference, it’s still worth your while to listen to Neil’s advice and find ways to level up your presentation and speaking skills.


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  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Neil Thompson about the value of public speaking skills as a developer and how to gain them


  • Introductions
  • How did you get into engineering?
  • Can you start by discussing the different types of public speaking that we are talking about and some of the different venues where it might take place?
  • How did you get into public speaking?
  • What are some of the ways that our speaking abilities can impact the value that we provide and the trajectory of our career as engineers?
  • What were some of the methods and resources that you used to improve your own public speaking skills?
  • What are the common mistakes that people make when speaking to a group?
  • What are some of the non-obvious ways that speaking skills can be useful as an engineer?
  • What was your approach to learning how to be an effective speaker?
    • What are some of the mis-steps or dead ends that you encountered?
  • What are the different skills or capabilities that are necessary for being an effective presenter?
  • What are some ways that engineers can practice their presentation skills?
  • How do different audiences/venues influence the approach that you take to how to prepare for a presentation?
  • How has your experience in public speaking factored into the work you do for your podcast?
  • What are some of the most interesting, innovative, or unexpected presentations or speaking techniques that you have seen or used/created?
  • What are the most interesting, unexpected, or challenging lessons that you have learned from speaking and teaching others to speak in a professional context?
  • What resources do you recommend for engineers who want to improve their speaking and presenting skills?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA