Speaking.io: The Ultimate Public Speaking How-To Guide

March 2, 2015

6:30 pm

Public speaking is an important and necessary skill that all people should have and develop. Regardless of whether or not your job is dependent on your ability to speak in front of a crowd of people, there will come a time in your life when being capable of doing so is the only thing that will prevent you from passing out or running away in front of everyone. But even outside this realm of speaking in front of a large audience, every person should – at the very least – know the core principles of how to speak to another person one-on-one. Well, if you’re in need of valuable public speaking advice, look no further than Speaking.io, a site dedicated to providing people with “brutally honest public speaking advice.”

Speaking.io was posted to Product Hunt last night, is a collection of public speaking advice from Zach Holman – one of GitHub’s first engineering hires and a man who’s built a side-career out of delivering top-notch talks/speeches. Holman has spoken at anything and everything – from local meetups to national technical conferences, where has talked about GitHub, development, and the art of talking. The site was created by Holman with conference speakers in mind – hence, you’ll find tips on how to present live tech demos or create the most engaging slides to accompany your talk – but many other pieces of advice on the site can very much apply to different kinds of public speaking scenarios. The biggest one that comes to mind: startup pitches.

The skill of public speaking is sadly undervalued. If it weren’t for my years of participation in speech and debate with my handy Pocket Guide to Public Speaking, I’d likely still find myself wanting to literally vomit in front of an audience instead of channeling those pre-public speaking emotions into enthusiasm. Through Speaking.io, Holman has essentially taken the basic principles of what it takes to prepare for and deliver a public speaking performance, in the most straight-forward, no-bs way. It’s especially valuable for startup founders who need practice on pitching. For instance, Holman goes into how to perfect your slide deck – making considerations to typography, transitions and animations you should use, and even which screen dimensions work best for an audience. He also digs deep on how to deal with nerves prior to giving a presentation and how to deal with the possibility (and reality) of completely bombing a public speech.

All of the content produced on Speaking.io is written by Holman himself, and was written with his own personal experiences in mind. It’s also written in his uniquely humorous voice, which makes every advice piece much easier to read than other advice pieces out there. Some highlights/tips from the site include:

On Practicing Your Speech/Talk/Presentation: “Do you know how Steve Jobs sounded so confident when he gave his famous Apple keynotes? The answer is pretty obvious: he was a huge, huge cocaine fiend.”

On Fucking Up: “At some point or another, the probability of fucking up in front of a lot of strangers you don’t know approaches one. It’s going to happen. You’re going to say something you didn’t mean. You’re going to blankly stare at your screen when you forget the argument that you’ve never, ever had problems remembering before. You’re going to accidentally horribly insult someone, and it was the last possible thing you meant to do. These things happen.”

On Live Tech Demos: “Live demos are like Global Thermonuclear War: the only way to win is to not do a live demo in front of hundreds of strangers in the first place.”

So, while Speaking.io was meant to be for conference speakers, it’s can also serve as a great resource for other types of public speaking engagements. But, as one Prouduct Hunt user puts it, it would be even better if it eventually evolved into “a place where people can upload their speech videos and get critiqued.” That would certainly be something to look forward to.



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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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