6 things we learned from an AMA event with Trisha Gee, Java Champion, published author, and leader of the Java Developer Advocacy team at JetBrains

As part of our Aspiring Women Speakers series, sponsored by Turntabl.io, we recently hosted our first online Ask Me Anything event with Trisha Gee and a panel of professional women in tech who have either launched their speaking careers, or are looking to start. From that discussion we have teased out some of the most useful pieces of advice on how and why you should explore public speaking, and what to expect once you’re up and running.

Here are 6 things we learned about launching a public speaking career from Trisha and our panellists:

1. You might find you are already doing it and didn’t realise.

Ever found yourself enthusing about some new software, or a company doing something at the cutting edge of development, to a group of like minded individuals just as enthusiastic as you? Congratulations, your career in public speaking has already begun. This is what dawned on Trisha after she found herself attending LJC events and “ranting at people in the pub afterwards” about them. So why not take that all important next step.

2. Take opportunities that come your way.

Sometimes life offers these chances when you least expect, or when you may not feel you are prepared, but you might just surprise yourself. It just means taking a leap. Trisha’s moment came when a senior manager needed her help; “I didn’t think I was ready, but less than 12 months later I was speaking at JavaOne — the opportunity came up when my boss’s boss asked if I wanted to co-present with him and I had to say yes.”

3. Go online to find your audience.

One of the positives to come from the last few years is the migration to remote hosting for speaking events, making them more accessible than ever. Our panel were in agreement that it is now easier to cut your teeth and get your ‘first gig’. One of the panellists suggested Lightning Talks with the LJC as a great way to start. Or hosting your own channel and building your audience that way. Many Java communities (including The London Java Community) are entirely online, so hopefully lots of opportunities.

4. Showcase your work and build a portfolio.

Chuck out the CV! Instead, use public speaking events to give live demonstrations to offer people a flavour of your work (which is how Trisha was offered her current role). And as soon as you start giving talks, get your hands on the recordings and start building a portfolio so that potential clients “can get a feel for your presentation style, the topics that interest you, your writing style.” Another participant added in “It’s MUCH easier to get accepted at a conference if the program committee can see what kind of speaker you are before they add you to the conference.”

5. Use your platform to encourage other women into public speaking.

Call for reinforcements, use your contacts — you can’t say yes to everything however much you’d like to (and Trisha warned against burnout) — and by encouraging others to follow in your footsteps you will be helping create a more diverse speaker industry. And your ambassador role doesn’t have to end there, as Trisha suggested; “Try sponsoring other women and members of other under-represented groups. Find them, and then put them forward for these events.”

6. Don’t be surprised if more senior job offers start coming your way.

Whatever your reason to get into public speaking, there is no doubt that this extra visibility will raise your profile and your chances of being approached for work. What better reason could you have for taking the plunge and seeing where it takes you. “Within my first two years I was offered two CTO-level positions, and at that time my official title was “senior developer” Trisha told us. Exciting stuff. Good luck!

Thank you to Trisha and our participants.

If you would like to gain more confidence in public speaking and connect with others on the same journey please get in touch and join our ever growing Aspiring Women Speakers group — it’s just one of 14 tech communities founded and organised by tech recruitment company RecWorks under the #ByRecWorks brand. For a full list of those communities check out our page here.

Founder of RecWorks (Tech Recruitment), Tech Career Hacker, Java User Group Founder (LJC), London CTOs Organiser, Mentor Match-Maker