ISTC presenting TCUK

Presented at TCUK 2012

This blog post is about how I presented at the TCUK conference in 2012. The TCUK conference 2015 takes place 29th September – 1st October 2015, Glasgow. See the conference website for details.


It’s over. I presented at the TCUK conference in Newcastle.

And survived….

The TCUK conference is an event for technical communication specialists. My colleague suggested it would be a good opportunity for me to present. Not sure if that was secret business code; “opportunities” are rarely fun.

So anyway, if you trawl through some of the past posts you’ll see that I’ve ended up giving this presentation twice before the big TCUK event. These previous events were a good “opportunity” to practice my talk and get used to standing in front of a group of people. Both of those practice talks went well so I was relatively calm about doing this one.

Mine was on day three of the event. I was pleased about this as it gave me a chance to acclimatise to the venue. The books I’d read said that you need to have some control over your environment, so I was keen to see how the rooms were going to be laid out. Was I going to be able to move about a bit, or was I going to be tied to the lectern? After one of the sessions on day two, I had a sneaky stand at the front when no was about so I could see what it was like standing at the front of the room. Not so bad.

My session was in the second slot on day three. In each time slot, delegates have a choice of three sessions to attend. I think there was somewhere between 150 and 170 people at the conference, so I had the possibility of between 0 and 170 people attending mine. During the session before mine, I was finding it pretty hard to concentrate on what I was listening to, and then the audience wanted to ask a million questions. I thought I was going to get to my session late. But, I got there with 7 minutes to spare.

But, there were already people sitting down in the room. I hoped I was going to get the room to myself for at least a couple of minutes so I could practice my mike and maybe practice the opening lines a couple of times. Alas, that wasn’t going to happen. I got to the lectern, and saw the mike, but no one to help me. Tiny moment of panic. Thought I’d best leave it alone. If I didn’t have any help and no mike, I knew I could probably project across the room well enough. David Farbey arrived and put me at ease straight away. David chairs this conference and does a tremendous job of it. He is incredibly natural and confident when he speaks in front of an audience.

I decided when practising the night before, that I would listen to some music before I had to speak, hoping that would get rid of any last minute nerves. So, I listened to The Killers “Flesh and Bone” on my iPad (low level, didn’t want to scare the audience), and that certainly helped; by the time came when I was introduced I was raring to go.

And what happened next?

The talk went much better than I could have hoped. The room was full (50+ people). They laughed in the right places, they listened attentively, and I managed to get a sneaky double applause out of them. Feedback after the session was humbling. A theme running through the presentation is that I hate presenting, so it was really nice to hear people tell me that I was a good presenter.

If anyone wants some good, solid advice about presenting, I recommend
The Presentation Coach: Bare Knuckle Brilliance For Every Presenter – by Graham Davies. It really is brilliant.

Would I put myself through this experience again and do another one?
Well, since my presentation was all about stepping out of the comfort zone, I’d have to say yes, or I’d be a massive hypocrite. I strongly believe that it’s important to keep stretching yourself, and seeking out new challenging experiences. It’s the only way we’ll ever discover our potential for doing wonderful things.