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Public speaking at GHC16

Book cover (pic from amazon)


Karen Catlin and Poornima Vijayashanker are two amazing women empowering technical women to improve their public speaking skills and help them take their rightful place at the table. Both of them started off as software engineers and later got into consulting in public speaking and other topics. They’ve co-authored a book on the topic – Present! A Techie’s Guide to Public Speaking. I got the amazing opportunity to attend a workshop where they shared some tips from their book.

Karen Catlin


The workshop was presented in a ‘I show then You do‘ fashion where the presenters talked us through the steps to achieve, walked us through a real-life example and then made go through the exercise ourselves. 

Poornima Vijayshanker


They walked us through the steps of identifying what we can speak afer inventorying our achievements over the past year, whetting interest in the topic with others at the table and coming up with a suitable story to open our story with. Almost every attendee walked away with a topic they could potentially present on. That was the best part!

They shared some tips to overcome stage fright, prepare good slides, practicing etc.

Apart from the techniques to identify what you can speak on, my key takeaways were the following – 

  1. Power Posing ala Amy Cuddy
  2. Meet and greet your audience before the talk to overcome nervousness and gather data for Q&A
  3. Story telling to draw the audience in
  4. How to handle Q&A (crowd source if you do not know the answer, use the meet & greet data to create questions)
I’m looking forward to develop my speaking topic further and see where it takes me. For more details on the session, refer to the handy notes on the systers wiki.

Also, I’ve started reading their book to learn more. If I’ve intrigued you enough, you can get your copy from here.