Most people pick up a copy of Present! because they’re curious about getting into public speaking, but we’ve also had some readers who have been speaking for awhile, like Sebastian Gębski dig into it.
Sebastian started his software engineering career twelve years ago. He’s spent the last last six to seven as a technical architect based in Poland, working on IT integration projects for international consulting companies.
Despite progressing throughout his career in a technical role, Sebastian spends about 50 – 60% of his time talking to people!
He works in teams of about eight people, but interfaces daily with other teams that are often much larger than that — up to 300 people at times.
Even though he’s had a lot of practice communicating and presenting to lots of people, Sebastian wanted to improve his skills further.
It’s All About Passion
Sebastian started public speaking out of passion for his work, he felt the urge to talk about it and share it with others. He was fortunate to have had great mentors to learn from, and now feels obliged to share with others what those mentors shared with him. Public speaking makes it easy to share his learnings with others
“If you have passion for something, the thing that becomes urgent is to share this passion. You want to speak about why this is important to you.” – Sebastian Gębski
Practice Makes Perfect
When you’re technical, it can be hard to carve out time to speak regularly, but consistency is the key to improving your speaking skills. Sebastian tries to maintain an average of one speaking engagement every two months. Some of these talks take place at technology committees at his company and are about topics that will benefit junior members. Sometimes Sebastian will also speak at local interest groups.
Empathy is Key in Figuring Out Your Audience
His talks are about both technical and non-technical topics. Given that his audiences are usually technical, but with varying degrees of expertise and experience, finding the right tone to use with each audience is a challenge. Often times, Sebastian might give a talk about a method or practice, and in those cases, the approach to presenting the content has to be different.
“Trying to fit the needs of the audience is the hardest thing. The first thing is, I’m trying to place myself in their shoes and find their expectations.” – Sebastian Gębski
Reaching the Next Level
After watching a recording of one of his talks, Sebastian realized that even though there was nothing terribly wrong, there was still room for improvement. Sebastian picked up Present! looking to find help to reach the next level in his talks. As an example, prior to reading the book, Sebastian would rehearse his talks by himself, whereas now he tries to find other people to listen to him and provide valuable feedback.
Sebastian feels that the best talks are not necessarily given by the most experienced speakers, but by those who are most passionate about their topic.
“My general advice is just to try. Choose a topic you like, and feel familiar and confident with. It’s not that hard to find people to listen. Just respect their time, so prepare, and then…just try.” – Sebastian Gębski
For those of you who might still be on the fence about speaking, Sebastian has some final wise words for you, ”The best presentations are given by passionate people who came to the conference and were relatively unknown but had something great to share.”