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August 24, 2021 · 3 min read

Public speaking for software developers

If you’re like Cal Evans, a Developer Evangelist at, and other such software professionals with 35+ years of experience, you probably got into software development because you were more interested in working with technology than talking to people. 

Fast forward to now, and Cal has given countless talks to thousands of people at tech conferences and user groups and even wrote a book on public speaking for developers.

In this public speaking masterclass for developers, Cal invites Josh Holmes, a Principal Developer Lead at Microsoft and a public speaking expert himself, to share his own experience from giving hundreds of talks all over the world to audiences sizes ranging from 1-5,000+.

Together, Cal and Josh answer the most common questions software professionals have when it comes to improving their public speaking skills. Here’s how to prepare for any public speaking engagement– on a large stage or in a weekly standup meeting:

Read transcript

Cal: Why is public speaking an important skill for developers?

Josh: Public speaking allows you to get knowledge from one brain to another. Honing your public speaking skills is going to help you get that knowledge and ideas from your brain with somebody else to inspire more thoughts and more thinking.

Cal: How can I improve my public speaking in meetings?

Josh: The more practiced you are, the more you will be able to think three to four sentences ahead of what you’re saying. When you have [what you’re going to say] prepared and ready, you don’t end up with all of your filler words, and it will come off as a polished and practiced speech.

Cal: How do I combat my fear of public speaking?

Josh: Remember that the audience is rooting for you. The audience doesn’t show up because they want to see you fail, they show up because they want you to be knowledgeable and entertaining. When mistakes happen, because mistakes happen all the time, laugh it off and keep rolling.

If you’ve shared an idea, and one person has picked it up, that’s a success.

Cal: How do I land my first public speaking engagement?

Josh: Start small. Look for a local user group that is less than 30 people where you can get up in front of 5-10 people and give a talk. User groups are desperate for content and are always looking for speakers. Once you’ve got a feel for talks with local user groups, you can move on to pitching talks to regional and main stage conferences.

Cal: What resources do you recommend for becoming a better public speaker?