If you’re looking to break out in your industry and looking to take yourself to the next level there is one thing that can help propel you into opportunites you never imagined. What is it?
It’s true. No doubt about it. I attest most of my success to a fateful day in 2008 (May 31st to be exact) when I spoke at Desert Code Camp in Phoenix. That was my first public speaking event in a professional setting, ever. The topic?
Intro to Dependency Injection and Inversion of Control
You can find the slides for that talk right here on slideshare.
I’m serious, that’s my first foraye into speaking. The slides are terrible and embarassing, but everyone loved the talk at the time. In fact, the people liked it so much that when I signed up to speak there I was able to see how many people were going to be at my talk in advance. The web app that code camp was using at the time had that feature (it was a different one than Desert Code Camp uses now, but similar). Long story short, my talk went from the “small classroom” to the medium room, to the large room to the auditorium at a tech college I was speaking at. Fun fact – the presentation was at UAT to be exact and thats actually where I went to college. I was very familiar with the auditorium and knew how many people it could fit. At the time I went it was 172 people.
How many people were there when I presented? Well over 172, there was standing room only and it was one of the most popular talks of the day. This is not a humble brag, but I am actually saying this for the exact opposite reason. I’m saying this because when I got on stage, I was scared shitless. To this day I remember walking on stage and then walking off, going outside, calling my wife and telling her how I did, going home and falling asleep from the sheer exhaustion of stress and terror that I just experienced. I do not remember any of the talk whatsoever. Kind of crazy how the mind will do that to traumatizing events.
Terror? Stress? What? Why? You may ask. You had a popular talk. You might think. You’re right, I did. People loved it and I got a lot of professional attention because of it, and it helped my career. The important thing to note here is that this was my first professional talk, ever. The most people I’d ever spoken in front of prior to that event was maybe 10-12 people, and that was during a work lunch when you go around the table and talk about something (such as a team building event). 172+ people? ABSOLUTE TERROR, PANIC & FEAR.
The thing is, public speaking has often been rated in many publications as the one thing people fear far more than death itself. Thats a pretty bold statement. More than death itself? I don’t know about you, but I love life. Sure, its full of stressors and other things that are out of my hands at time, but I love being alive. I’d much rather get in front of people and talk than die. But … thats the reality of the situation – people are scared to get in front of crowds and speak. So scared that they’d rather die. Think about how many people you know that say “OMG, there is now way I could do that, I’d die”. Yeah. Exactly.
That one day led to many job offers eventually. Not just full time offers but consulting offers and offers to do bigger and better things. From speaking I ventured deeper into blogging and then into more writing in general. I kept speaking and eventually got noticed by some consutlingn firms. I worked for them for awhile and kept speaking as well. Companies usually love when you speak in public. You’re a public face of their company (in this case, part of the engineering deparment). Eventually I got enough offers for external contract jobs that I decided to jump and go work for myself as a consultant. I did that six years ago in 2009. I went full time independent consulting. How? All from speaking.
If I had never got in front of people and spoke about what I knew I’d never be in the situation I’m in now. I’m foreever grateful to those who gave me the opporutnity to speak, to hire me and to bring me on to help their team. Thank you.
Fast forward many years later from my initial speaking engagement and I’ve now spoken to crowds of 400-500 people at times with no fear. As with anything – the more you do it, the better you get at it and eventually you actually kind of get used to it.
I challenge you to go out and speak. Find a local user group, a code camp, a meet-up of some sort. Just go out and share your knowledge. Don’t be scared. Will you know everything? No. Will there be someone in the crowd who knows more than you? Yes. Regardless, you need to get out there and do it. You’ll be glad you did. It will open doors you never knew existed.