Yash Prabhu is an Android developer who leads a team of four at DramaFever – a Warner Bros. company that specializes in streaming international media content. In late 2014, Yash first tried her hand at public speaking, giving a five-minute lightning talk. She thought, “Hey, it’s only five minutes—I can do that!” She quickly realized that even those five minutes required a lot of preparation! Yash enjoyed the challenge, and since then she has given a number of talks, either by invitation or events that she applied for. She is now looking to learn more and reach the next level in her public speaking.
When Yash began preparing for her first talk, she started by reading as much as she could about speaking in public. She has read Scott Berkun’s Confessions of a Public Speaker and Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen. However, she felt like her process was very well reflected in Present!
“When I read your book, I felt like you read my mind. I wish I had it a year ago when I started out. I’ve seen a lot of people volunteer, go up on stage, and do so badly because they just didn’t prepare. They’re not aware of all the things that go into the preparation.” – Yash Prabhu
Having gleaned this process from the book, she knows what to spend time on. Yash found the book to be well structured, and since she’s a fast reader, the recap sessions were very helpful to consolidate what she learned from each section. Her concerns of whether it would be applicable to a worldwide audience, and of whether her accent would be a problem, turned out to be unfounded.
Yash also liked the bonus section about meetings, as she could implement the very practical advice it provided.
From singing to speaking
Yash is trained in classical Indian music, having practiced from the age of six. This background gives her an advantage, as she is used to being on a stage in front of people. However, that does not prevent her from getting stage fright. Yash leans upon her background as a singer to handle that feeling.
“With singing, your voice shivers if you’re nervous so you have to squash that, and get out there and do it. I know if I’m nervous, that shows in my voice.” – Yash Prabhu
“Why didn’t I do this before? People keep talking about how public speaking is worse than death—to me it’s not.” – Yash Prabhu
One benefit of public speaking, according to Yash, is that it makes it easier to go out to an event where she doesn’t know people. “When you volunteer to speak, people who identify with your topic will then come talk to you.” Early on, Yash found that she rather enjoys speaking in public. Yash feels that the confidence she has gained from public speaking helps her to be more confident in other areas of her life as well.
Before going up on stage, Yash will rehearse the talk to herself at least three or four times, recording first her audio and then video. After she’s comfortable with it, she will ask someone to review her slides and to listen to her rehearse the talk. It is important for her to be respectful of people’s time, and to give a polished presentation once she’s up on stage.
“Just practice. As many times as you can. It’s much better to go on stage knowing your stuff than to go out there and be confused.” – Yash Prabhu