Public Speaking

by Lara Hogan

Demystifying Public Speaking book coverDon’t think public speaking is for you? It is—whether you’re bracing for a conference talk or a team meeting. Lara Hogan helps you identify your fears and effectively face them, so you can make your way to the stage (big or small).

Get clear, practical advice through every step, from choosing a topic and creating a presentation, to gathering and distilling feedback, to event-day prep. You’ll feel confident and equipped to step into the spotlight.

Read the full book here, or buy the book on A Book Apart.

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Table of Contents

  1. Foreword by Eric Meyer
  2. Dedication
  3. Introduction
  4. 1. Step Zero
    1. Flip that fear around
    2. What makes you tick?
    3. Move beyond the "rules"
  5. 2. Choosing a Topic
    1. 101 is okay!
    2. Brainstorm from your work
      1. Get to the root of the challenge
      2. Share your process
      3. Reassess your solution
    3. How juicy is it?
    4. Size up your topic
      1. Focus on takeaways
      2. Consider constraints
    5. Take your topic for a test spin
  6. 3. Finding a Venue
    1. Lunch and learns
    2. Meetups
    3. Conferences
      1. Finding a conference
        1. What is the event’s reputation?
        2. How organized is the event? What’s the level of speaker support?
        3. How inclusive is the event?
        4. What’s the level of expected socializing?
        5. Does the location pose travel or cultural concerns?
      2. Get in the door
        1. Submitting a proposal
        2. Skipping the line
      3. Locking it in
        1. Negotiate your compensation
        2. Review what you’re agreeing to
      4. After you sign
  7. 4. Writing Your Presentation
    1. Content Structure
    2. Crafting slides
      1. Incorporating visuals
      2. Accessibility and inclusivity
    3. Bells and whistles
      1. Technical extras
      2. Mid-conference and post-talk resources
    4. Presenter notes
    5. Holding the audience's attention
      1. Incorporate humor
      2. Set audience expectations
      3. Keep ’em on their toes
    6. Time it
    7. Iterate on it
  8. 5. Practicing and Gathering Feedback
    1. Practicing solo
    2. Practicing with people
      1. Equip your crew to give good feedback
        1. Topic and technical depth
        2. Slide design
        3. Narrative
        4. Presentation style
        5. Next-level feedback
      2. Equip yourself to receive feedback
      3. Distill the feedback
    3. Practicing Q&A
  9. 6. Counting Down
    1. Prepare and pack
      1. Wear what makes you feel like a superhero
        1. Avoiding wardrobe malfunctions
        2. Working with the stage setup
      2. Pack an electronics bag
      3. Back up everything
      4. Triple-check your logistics
    2. Travel
      1. Manage energy drain
      2. Recognize what’s in your control (and what isn’t)
    3. To do at the venue
      1. Meet and greet
      2. Sneak a peek
    4. Prepare to get onstage
      1. Eating and drinking
      2. How do I look and sound?
      3. Power up!
  10. 7. The Talk
    1. Is this thing on?
    2. Our bodies, ourselves
    3. Reading the audience
    4. Handling Q&A
      1. Trick(y) questions
      2. Impostor syndrome
      3. On harassment
    5. After the talk
      1. Collect feedback
      2. Check in with yourself
      3. Celebrate your achievement
  11. Acknowledgments
  12. Resources


Some of the links cited in the print version of Demystifying Public Speaking, originally published in 2016, no longer work. For this free web version published in 2021, we've replaced any broken links with Wayback Machine archived versions.

About the author

Photograph of a woman with blond hair and glasses, wearing a red shirtLara Callender Hogan is an author, public speaker, and coach for managers and leaders across the tech industry.

As a founder of Wherewithall, Lara and her team run workshops, roundtables, and trainings on core management skills like delivering great feedback and setting clear expectations.

Before Wherewithall, Lara spent a decade growing emerging leaders as the VP of Engineering at Kickstarter and an Engineering Director at Etsy. She champions management as a practice, building fast websites, and celebrating your achievements with donuts (and sometimes sushi). Her latest book, Resilient Management, is here to help those who find themselves responsible for supporting a team of people.