Bad technical talks suck. Learn to give great ones.

"@r00k you're one of the best presenters I've ever seen in tech."

@sayhar

I just sat through a day-long conference featuring a dozen or so speakers. A handful did an excellent job. They were energetic, inspiring, and left the audience excited. But far too many were thoroughly mediocre. They had crappy slides with tiny text, and brought absolutely no passion to the table. You could feel the audience slowly growing more and more catatonic as they droned on past the specified time limit.

As I watched these speakers, I got downright angry. Giving a crappy talk disrepects your audience. It forces them to give up their precious time to watch you do something poorly. And that lost time is multiplied by person in the room.

The thing is, nearly every one of these speakers made the same mistakes. First of all, they broke the Prime Directive for giving a great talk: Don't Be Boring. A low-energy, unfunny delivery will kill even the most promising topic. But an entertaining speaker can talk about anything at all and be worth watching.

Secondly, these bad speakers all had crappy slides. Too much text, tiny fonts, crappy contrast, and no creativity. Personally, I think any tech talk without live coding is rarely worth its time slot, but there ARE ways to create awesome slides that reinforce your points and add interest.

After the fourth speaker made nearly the same mistakes as their predecessors, I was seething. I decided it was time to embark on a mission to rid the world of shitty technical talks. I opened up my laptop and started pounding out my guidelines for speaking to a crowd and absolutely killing it. What started as an outline grew to a blog post's size, and kept going. Several pages later, I realized I had a ton to say about giving great talks. In the dim conference hall, with the audience snoring around me, I realized I had a book inside me clawing to get out, and Speaking for Hackers was born.

"@r00k is killing - calisthenics, comedy, hecklers, and great super-fast coding w/ vim"

@pattytoland

The great news about public speaking is that things that make speakers great or terrible are very consistent. Great speakers share nearly all the same strengths, and terrible ones share the same weaknesses. Giving an excellent talk is actually quite a challenge, but if you do a few things right you'll increase your chances massively.

Beyond just a good showing at a conference, presenting well in front of your peers can massively benefit your career. Speaking well on a topic establishes you as an authority on your topic, and I've had great talks turn into consulting engagements and job offers. Also, a history of excellent speaking engagements is a terrific way to distinguish yourself from your peers. Lots of developers code pretty well, but one that codes well and can crush a presentation really stands out. Not only that, but even if you never plan to speak at a conference in your life, you'll certainly be asked to demo something in front of a few co-workers at some point, and the same ideas for good presentations apply equally well to these situations.

If I've sold you on the value of speaking really, really well, I have some bad news: Speaking for Hackers isn't written yet. In fact, it's just getting started. But there's good news too: you can sign up for early access for a fraction of my planned sale price. I'll add you as a collaborator on the github repository for the book and you can watch it unfold in real time. Additionally, you'll be able to post questions and feedback in the issues section, and even suggest improvements through pull requests (and get a special thank you in the book when it's completed).

Here's my outline for things I plan to write about:

Want to see read some excerpts? Check out Kill Your Introduction or Don't Be Boring.

As I've mentioned above, the book isn't written yet. You're signing up to be part of the process, to get access to content immediately, and to shape the final product.

"@r00k your talk was great today! Never thought I'd get excited over something like vim!"

@ohaicristina

You can learn to give awesome talks that get rave reviews. To earn the respect of your peers and reap the benefits of being a sought-after speaker. To go out and crush it and leave your audience cheering.

Sign up now!