Long before I became a programmer I went to see my future step father in law speak at the London Perl Workshop or YAPC EU in (I think) 2005. Being completely unfamiliar with the world of programming I couldn’t understand why anyone would put themselves through that. It didn’t help that I was at university and hated giving presentations.
Now fast forward over 10 years and I’m now a programmer and I’ve started forcing myself to speak when I get the chance. I still get nervous speaking in public but I try to take every opportunity to practice. It’s a good way to share knowledge and build up a reputation at work or in the community. As I’m moving into contracting this is really important.
I’ve found that with enough preparation the chance of stumbling over words and forgetting what I’m going to say next is reduced and that takes away a lot of what I disliked in university. I now make sure I run through my talk from start to finish a good few times before I do it to anyone (except the maybe the dog). That means going through the slides and actually speaking out loud. It doesn’t work if you say it in your head. As soon as you open your mouth you’ll realise you haven’t thought how you’re going to verbalise it.
I realise this is a bit of obvious advice but I’ve had far too many times where I’ve sacrificed preparation due to time constraints and it’s always been a mistake. Since forcing myself to practice, practice, practice I’ve not had any big screw ups.