Presentation Reflections

2017 in Speaking (and 2018 Speaking Goals)


This year, my speaking goals were:

  • Give a talk I’m proud of.
  • Try something new.

This came about because at the end of 2016 I realised I had (nearly) met the goals I set for myself, but I hadn’t really enjoyed the process. I stripped things back and tried something different.

My guideline for this year was once again six talks. I did a video talk for Design+Exclusion called “The Not So Secret Feminist Agenda”, co-presented at WCEU with two colleagues, ran a workshop on public speaking and co-hosted Try!Swift NYC for the second year running. Aside from that I prepared one talk “YOLO Releases Considered Harmful” [blog series it’s based on] which I gave four times (plus once at a friend’s workplace). One of these was a keynote (checking off the goal I missed in 2016). Again, I hit three continents: Europe, North America, and Asia.

I only did one podcast this year, the Simple Leadership Podcast where we talked Managing Managers. But – exciting, Old Media – I was included in a BBC piece on Imposter Syndrome (got to go inside a BBC radio studio, which was pretty cool), and I made my first TV appearance on the Today Show.

“Give a talk I’m proud of” is not a great goal. It’s not specific, so it’s hard to say whether it’s been achieved – especially as when I’ve given a talk multiple times I often find myself starting to hate it, convinced that it adds nothing of value. But I was really proud of this year’s talk, and I got some great feedback on it. I think partly I ended on a high with it – Try!Swift Bangalore was the last event I gave it at, and was my favourite of this year. I spread out the time I spent preparing it, which I think made it better – the weekly blog post series leading up to giving it for the first time really helped. I also had Virginia Poltrack illustrate it with adorable raccoons which was great. My slides gave me personally a lot of joy, and I got really great comments about them too.

Try something new – another goal, terrible in it’s vagueness. But actually I tried a lot of new things this year:

  • I ran a workshop solo.
  • I tried a very different slide style and a new person making them.
  • I did a video presentation on a more “diversity” topic.
  • I was on TV!
  • I changed my way of preparing – breaking down my talk and writing blogposts over a ~6 week period.
  • I co-presented.

And – I went back to something that I knew worked, and had a session with speaker coach Denise which put me on the right track at the start of the year.

The other thing that changed this year is that I used public speaking in my job more. I gave a short (~7 minute) presentation to the whole company remotely. I was on call for a ~6 hour live Q&A session at the all company meetup (and yes – I answered questions).

Finally – I got better at saying no. Early in the year I agreed to an event and ended up regretting it. Whilst some good came out of it (you can always make the best of things) it was an expensive mistake (I ended up having to book my own accommodation at the last minute) and reminded me to trust my instincts and my criteria and not agree to “be nice”.

So… 2018?

  • Speak at a WordCamp (I will have to start submitting again 😱)
  • Speak at an event in Ireland.
  • More podcasts! They’re fun!
  • Say no.


  • Give a talk I’m proud of.
  • Try something new.

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