Public Speaking Class with Josh Constine

· 1125 words · 6 minute read

Notes on how to publicly speak, professionally

I recently had the chance to sit down in a small setting with Josh Constine, to learn about how to be a better public speaker and better moderator. I wrote notes voraciously, and wanted to share them with you:

a group of gas station members listening to josh talk

  • you sound slower than you think when you’re speaking, but still try to speak a bit slower

    • the slower you speak, the less filler words you use
    • you sound more dignified
    • your brain can keep up with the words you’re saying
  • use dynamic tone

    • emphasize words that matter
    • take pauses at end of sentences
  • finish your sentence” - make sure you come to the end of your sentence

  • ask questions with a finite ending

    • keeps speaker on edge

    • put the context at the start of the question

      | “Web3 is growing big… how do you get speaking gigs?”

      instead of

      | “how do you get speaking gigs? now that web3 is blowing up, there are more opportunities to find talks”

  • never answer for your panelist - if they don’t answer right away, let them have the time / give them the space to think

    • it’s not on you as the moderator, to rescue the speaker
  • as a speaker, keep the answer hard and specific to the question

    • do not dilute the speaker’s question
    • formulating good answers take time
  • small gestures on stage are actually really distracting → try and stay motionless

    • a little bit of gesture / posture change as a moderator is ok, but fidgeting is really noticeable
  • when you ask tough questions, be sure to ask in an empathetic tone

    • helps break down walls
  • as a panelist, have 3 points you want to keep going back to

    • prepare beforehand of what these three points will be - have a strategy
    • if you don’t know the answer to a question asked, you can lead back to these 3 points
    • 3 points is easy for an audience to remember
  • if you’re being interviewed - prepare the interviewer with points you want to talk about

    • helps shape the direction of the conversation
  • if you need a prompt / interview helper, do not use your phone

    • better to have an analog prompt (piece of paper, notebook, index card, etc) to help with answering question

| 💡 interviewer pro-tip - read the last few tweets of the person you’re interviewing! It will help you be relatable, also might be able to tie into the talk

  • listen to previous works / talks of the interviewee → you can tie it into your questioning, and allows for deeper conversations / questions
    • It doesn’t have to be the whole thing, just a small snippet
  • pre-write your jokes, even if they’re not funny
    • the audience will relax because bad jokes are still good jokes
  • prep calls are counter productive
    • vibe doesn’t carry over to the interview
    • audience wasn’t there, so if you refer to something from the prep call, audience wont understand the context
    • email threads »» phone calls
  • recommendation: have 2-3x more questions than needed
    • you will have flexibility and no stress of filling the time
    • have list of questions ordered by themes
      • allows for organic flow of conversation
  • don’t give exact questions to speakers beforehand because they’ll write canned / PR friendly answers
    • instead give topics and subtopics you expect to touch on
  • you can get people to talk about “thorny” or hard topics by asking them three times
  • feel free to use “critics have said ____ how do you respond” or “people on twitter have said _____, what do you think?” to ask hard/edgy questions
  • always know your next questions → no dead time on stage as the interviewer
  • if you have a large number of speakers
    • start lightening round of questions to get speakers talking / riff

      • this also hooks in the listeners / audience

      | “Give a quick 10 second intro and then answer what’s your favorite DAO right now?”

    • later you can ask to share a little bit more about their background and to answer a question at the same time

    • personal and biographical questions help audience relate

  • get to the meat and potatoes of the talk in the beginning of the talk to be sure to give enough time for deep conversations and answers
  • don’t be afraid to shut down long winded speakers
    • this is your duty as a moderator to the audience
    • redirect to another person if they’re talking too much or back to a topic if they’re off topic
  • end panels with something future facing - “what’s next?”
  • do recaps - Josh likes to do recaps at the ends of talks
    • takes notes mid talk quickly (using analog means) to do recap for later
    • helps keep audience’s memory fresh of what was covered
    • very impressive skill to speaker bookers
    • moderator or speaker, you should do this
      • josh literally will do this as a speaker by grabbing the mic and announcing things to recap
  • a good question ordering as a moderator
    1. speed round
    2. personal/autobiographical question
    3. tactical question
    4. challenging question if needed
    5. future looking question
    6. recap
  • twitter spaces - talks do better with closed speaker loops and then allowing external listeners to ask questions
  • breaking open shy speakers by giving them an easy question to start with

Q and A: 🔗

  • it took Josh 4 years to start getting paid

    • how bad do they need you?
    • as a reminder, you have a lot more leverage last minute for getting paid
    • typically you want them to throw out the first number
  • looking for gigs → you can probably get paid if a conference has paid tickets and sponsorships

  • find your core piece of credibility - “i made this and that’s why you want me to speak”

    • assemble your references / sources and have them easily available for people to find
  • the hardest speakers to find right now are keynote speakers

    • find a topic you care about and turn it into a 20 minute presentation
    • conferences want keynote speakers
  • when do you feel like you have mastery / competency to talk publicly about a subject?

    | 💪 “Fake it till you make it”

  • how to get competency about a subject to publicly speak about it, quickly

    • get an advisor network to give advice, future insights, and to ask what are the current heated topics / debates in the field
      • get experts to tell you their insights
      • read a few blog posts
    • formulate a new opinion after absorbing all this information
  • good keynotes have stats, lenses, and insights about a topic

It was a really engaging discussion, and I’m excited to share these notes with you. Thank you Josh for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us!

Bonus Video 🔗

Me cheering for you when you get your first public speaking gig. I’m proud of you!