An interview with Samantha Burden, UX Product Manager and Aspiring Speaker

Sam Burden

We have been catching up with members of our fantastic Aspiring Women Speakers group, sponsored by Turntabl.io, to find out what key learnings and new projects they have taken on since beginning their speaking journey.

Sam took her first steps with a very timely lightning talk on making a career change in a pandemic. We spoke recently and I asked her to expand on her experiences so far as well as any new exciting challenges.

Remind me, why did you get started?

I first joined the LJC Aspiring Women’s Speaker Group in September 2020 after watching a talk by a previous speaker. I have been searching for a Speaker Group to join for a while, as it was the one skill I felt like I couldn’t obtain from work.

What convinced me to do my talk was from my coach, who suggested I start my journey by doing a 5 minute lightning talk.

Where did you start, what was your first experience?

I gave my first lightning talk in early October 2020 based on doing a career change in a pandemic. Because this was the first time I’ve done a presentation or talk to a large group of people for a couple of years, I felt nervous and not sure what to expect. But everyone was supportive and friendly, which gave me the confidence to do more talks.

Can you walk us through any key points in your journey?

I helped with some presentation skills for previous UX and Product management. I spent time building my personal brand online through blogging and vlogging. I also did some teaching for a UX course. With encouragement and help from others in the group, I did a talk for the Mobile UX conference in late March which was watched by 350 worldwide. I wanted to do it as someone new to UX and Product Management and took on board the practice gained from the LJC to have confidence delivering the talk.

Where are you now?

Since the conference talk and presentations, I have done with the LJC, I have actually got a new job within the field of UX and Product Management. The LJC gave me the confidence to promote myself and highlight my passion for this field.

Where do you want to go next with it?

I am currently in the process of developing my personal brand on UX and personal development. I’m hoping within the next year that with more practice and a defined idea that I will have the confidence of making my goal of talking at a TEDx talk.

One final question — what have you learned since you got started? What would you tell a more junior version of yourself?

The one key thing I have taken from this experience is don’t be afraid of bringing your authentic self when doing public speaking. The biggest hurdle has been the fear of messing up and needing to be formal, but over time I tried to develop this skill based on my personality. Another is that don’t worry about creating a script; it’s more important to create a few notes that can be adapted in a way to create a story for the audience.

If, like Sam, you are interested in gaining experience and confidence in your public speaking please get in touch.

The Aspiring Women Speakers group is 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