The Big Bad Microphone
Updated: Apr 23
Public speaking is highly stressful and hard work. For many it's such a struggle they tend to doubt themselves, panic sets in, and they may even question their knowledge or value of presenting in the first place. I'm one of those many. So why, if it's so stressful, do I do it?
Cyber Security is the process of layering on multiple controls, and to me, the most important control is humans. Teaching humans the Why, is beyond any technical control you can put in place. Humans can recognise patterns, we can adapt our responses quicker and often with much more reliability. That's why I do public speaking; to spread knowledge.
It doesn't come naturally to me, my passion and excitement do. Back in grade school I had to do class presentations, and I was simply awful. Until one day, grade 6 or 7, we were asked to do a speech about any topic of our choice. It literally could be what ever we wanted, and we had to speak non-stop for three minutes, I was terrified.
I spoke about the only thing I really knew at the time, Tenor Drumming. Brought my sticks, twirled them around, demonstrated what each different spin was called and how it worked, and before I knew it my time was up. I didn't feel sick, I wasn't even scared of failing when I stood up to start - I was just excited that I could share something that was so important to me. What's more, everyone in my class had shared my excitement for those three solid minutes. That's when I knew, no matter how hard it may be, I'm going to share my passions with others.
As per the brilliance of Twitter, I get to chat with others around the world who equally want to share their passions. The conversation often revolves around "Should I focus on X or Y? Should I focus on N part of Z?" and so on it goes, in a circle of wanting to truly get across the message, each part as important as the last. I applaud these techs, working hard to express the importance of each and everything, but I also don't want it to fall on deaf ears. So my advice is, keep the passion and excitement, but drop it into two to three key messages or take aways. It can't hurt to host multiple sessions, and for any internal talks, you can always mark it as awareness training!
Don't worry if you aren't perfect. I've done many talks where I was so nervous it shows, but I gave my message, and my practical steps that I knew would help, and in the end I received a lot of positive feedback. Remember, the audience is there because they want you to succeed. If you make a mistake, don't worry, no one knows your script. Once finished, you can discuss opinions, answer questions, and celebrate your awesomeness together.
If you're asking yourself "how do I know I'm ready?", you won't know until you try. Look into doing a lightning talk, speaking to friends or at a local meet up, even joining a panel or podcast could be a good starting place. I started by presenting a poorly coded Network Configuration Management tool, it wasn't the best creation, but the benefit came in highlighting the value of monitoring configuration changes. I was able to share my passion in networking, and got the conversation started. Identify the message you want to share, then go out there and share it.