The What, Who, Why, Where and How of Public Speaking

The What, Who, Why, Where and How of Public Speaking

This is a guide for anyone who wants to get into the realm of public speaking.

Published Mar 11, 2024
Alright alright, are you thinking about stepping into the world of public speaking? You've come to the right place. Let me tell you a little bit about what public speaking entails and what to talk about, who it's for, why you should start it right away, where to give your first talk, and how you can get started. Meanwhile, I'll show you an awesome AI app created on PartyRock, an Amazon Bedrock Playground that can help you streamline this whole process - Talk Maker!


So what is public speaking exactly? At its core, it's communicating a message or sharing knowledge verbally to an audience. This can cover a wide range of topics from discussions about your personal experiences to teaching others about a complex subject area. The possibilities are endless!
Here are a few examples of what you can talk about:
  • What you already know
  • What you learned from other sources (blog, interviews etc)
  • A project you worked on
  • Industry trends
  • Important events
  • Challenges you've faced


As for who public speaking is for - everyone! Seriously, you don't need to have a certain job, degree, or background to try your hand at it. Public speaking is a skill that takes practice but can be learned by anyone willing to challenge themselves a bit outside their comfort zone. Stepping up to share your ideas and perspectives is within reach for all. And I recommend it to everyone, the benefits are numerous!


Now for the big why - why take on public speaking? A few great reasons to consider it. For one, it gives you visibility and credibility as an expert in your field. Anytime you're up speaking before an audience, you cement yourself as a leader. It's also a fantastic way to network and meet others. Plus, public speaking does aid your learning and growth because by teaching others we teach ourselves. Preparing talks forces you to organize your knowledge, and getting hands-on experience speaking only sharpens your communication skills. It's a personal challenge well worth undertaking.


Okay, where can you speak? Lots of options - both online and off. Consider doing a talk for your company's internal meetings, at local meetups like AWS User Groups, or submit a proposal to a conference. There are so many conferences out there. I recommend you take a look at the AWS Community Day near you and submit to speak there. Otherwise, you can check this developers conferences agenda repo with tons of other conferences you can apply to. And in the digital age, there are options like creating videos for YouTube or podcasts too where you can practice your public speaking skills. The venues are endless.


Here you have two avenues to start with:
  • Avenue #1: Start with the what in mind. First, decide what you want to discuss (can be a high-level topic) - whether that's based on your personal experiences, your work, trends in your field, and so on. Make sure it's a topic you're passionate and knowledgeable about.
  • Avenue #2: Start with the where in mind. Depending on the event, for instance, a security event you will need to give a talk related to security. If the event doesn't have a specific topic or has several talk tracks you can go with the first avenue.
Once you've decided you want to give a talk and have a high-level topic, you need to define your audience and the outcomes of your talk. Understanding who you want to talk to is crucial. What are their interests, pain points, and knowledge levels? Tailor your content and language accordingly. For example, a talk for senior leadership would require more of an executive summary than granular details. The outcome refers to what you want your audience to learn, think, feel, or do after they've heard your message. What action do you want them to take? Be specific.
Talk Maker app - audience and outcome
From there you need to hone in on a specific subject so you can start brainstorming on a catchy title that draws people in, and an abstract about your talk and break the talk into 2-3 main actionable points or takeaways.
Here's a tip: if you're planning to deliver a technical talk, try to present a demo even if it's just for a couple of minutes or a few screenshots. Demos can aid audience understanding and cement your message because they reinforce concepts in a visual, interactive way versus passive viewing. Sticks better in minds! If it's something complex, a short demo plus sharing your slides/notes afterwards is very helpful.
Talk Maker - Demo suggestion
Now it's time to prepare your visual presentation. Once you have all your main elements in hand (title, abstract, demo and 2-3 core points) start building out your slides. Keep it simple with a few lines of text and clear - people shouldn't have to strain to read tiny text. Include relevant anecdotes, stories, data, or images to reinforce your messages. Remember to never use images, content or code in your presentation without proper permission!
Talk Maker - slides and images
Talk Maker - images
Now you're almost ready! Polish your presentation and rehearse it aloud for others. Practice in front of friends, family, or co-workers. Ask for honest feedback on how you can improve your delivery, if the content flows well, and thoughts on visuals. Incorporate any suggestions before showtime. You can also record practice runs to review later. Repetition is key to feeling comfortable when presenting.
On the day, relax and remember that people are there to learn from you! Make frequent eye contact with the audience, change up the tone and pace of your speech, sprinkle in some humor, and use visible energy and body language. Speak loudly and clearly into the mic.
Once you're done with the talk, you'll want to leave some time for Q&A (questions and answers). Anticipate what types of questions may come up based on your topic. Feel free to say you don't know an answer, but offer to follow up. Thank your attendees for their great questions!
After the talk, take some notes on what went well, where you could improve, and any additional feedback received. Save this for the next time you present - you'll get better and better! Just keep practicing and continuing to challenge yourself.
Finally and most importantly, have fun with the whole process! Public speaking gets easier the more you do it. After a few talks, you're going to love doing them!
If you want to try the PartyRock app, you can do so here: https://partyrock.aws/u/juliafmorgado1/oGddt5yV8/Talk-Maker
Or watch a short demo on how to use it here: