If you’ve spent your education and career focused on developing strong and deep technical skills, is there a need to learn how to write and present as well?
If you want to get ahead and achieve to most from your technical talents… yes! As we learned from Sam Lightstone’s book “Making it Big in Software”, one of the best ways to get a promotion is to do something that makes you stand out from your peers. Publish, files patents, join groups, present about your topics, etc. Do what you like to do and what makes you feel appreciated. Writing and presenting will make you an instant expert in a topic and will make you stand out.
Getting skills to write and present aren’t nearly as hard as you think. Let’s cover writing first. In a few months you’ll be able to read Roger Sander’s latest book “From Idea to Print”. I’ve already read the book and highly recommend it. It covers everything that you need to know & do in order to get an article or book published. I blogged about the book and about teaching writing skills to a class in York University: Campus Visit. Many people think presenting is worth than death, so if you think like that, you may try your hand at writing first. One major tip though… don’t take feedback about your writing personally. If you do, you’ll never be able to write. Not many people can write a first draft that is perfect… but with many revisions and attention to feedback can help you get as close to perfection as possible.
One of the people I follow on twitter is a regular technical speaker and she wrote a wonderful blog entry on tips on speaking: “Speaker Lessons Learned” by Karen Lopez. I don’t speak to audiences very often, but must say that I find speaking on webinars or podcasts to be much easier than in front of a live audience. Comfort would come with practices, so there is an opportunity for anyone to get comfortable if they choose.
Another suggestion I have to help you improve both your writing and presentation skills is to take part in an event like “DB2’s Got Talent” that was featured earlier this year on the DB2Night Show. Contestants speak to a “live” audience but over a mic from their home or office. This might be the best way to begin getting comfortable speaking to an audience. The show took place over 8 weeks and some of the contestants presented up to 5 times. The presentations were short but still not easy. Judges gave constructive feedback to the contestants to help them hone their writing and presenting tips and the contestants were able to use this feedback the next time they presented. I was very impressed with the improvements each contestant was able to make. Listen to the replays to see what you can learn from the competition. The DB2Night Show plans to do this event again in the fall, so jump in and join!
Keep your technical skills up to par, but go the extra step and learn how to wow the world with your knowledge through writing & presenting.