Last Thursday, January 14th, I had the pleasure of speaking at the second Atlanta FuckUp Nights event. FuckUp Nights is an organization in over 150 cities with events highlighting stories of failure. The format includes four speakers each with 10 slides that auto-progress 40 seconds each.
The organizers expected 65 in the crowd, but we kicked off with over 100. Needless to say, the organizers, Tim Adkins and Jay Cranman, did a great job getting the word out.
I had the honor of speaking among TJ Muehlman (Cofounder of Standard Code), Jerica Richardson (Cofounder of HackOut Ninja), and Kyle Azevedo (Cofounder of [former] ViaCycle).
The talk went fantastic. I got a lot of great responses including many who related to my story and learned a lot. Take-aways from the experience…
- I had seven consecutive black slides that looked like one slide with the auto-transition. This allowed my story to flow without sticking to a rigid format. (Hey, I’m an entrepreneur – I disrupt things.)
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. My friends in the acting world pushed me to rehearse… a lot. Happy they did as I didn’t struggle at all in the talk. Everything flowed real well and natural.
- Write a script, rehearse the script, but don’t follow the script. I wrote down word-for-word what I wanted to say. However, I didn’t once recite the script verbatim. I just let my mind speak with whatever it wanted to as long as the message was clear and the point was clear.
- Prepare for post-talk questions. There was 5 minutes following the talk for Q&A. I forgot to prepare for potential questions, and though, I knew my answers, I could’ve answered more succinctly.
- People really pulled in when I shared a vulnerable moment. Given I was talking about a very passionate, sore subject, I did get choked up at one point. My book’s collaborator, Don Pottinger, suggested this, and I’m glad I listened to him. The result was my story resonating really well with the audience.
- ALWAYS consider the audience. As speakers, our talks were our products. Our market was the audience made up of those in technology, startups, and those completely foreign to technology. This meant our messages needed to be adjusted to be easily understood by everyone (read: don't get too technical).
What are some of your tips on public speaking? How have you prepared?