Like driving a car

I remember when I first started learning to drive. Behind the wheel, there was so much to think about. I’d change my focus from the road, to the street signs, to the lights, to the cars, to the speedometer. It was all so very overwhelming and stressful.

Over time, things get easier. Eventually, I could sense how fast the car was going. I didn’t have to look at the speedometer every 30 seconds. The street signs began to fade into the surroundings.

Some days, I drive from one place to another and can’t remember the journey because I was thinking about something else. Driving is mostly muscle memory now.


I remember when I first started to do conference talks. My very first talk was about JavaScript at WebVisions back in 2006. I couldn’t tell you what anybody in the audience looked like. I don’t think I looked up from my slides the entire time. It was all so very overwhelming and stressful.

Over time, things got easier. Eventually, I could slow myself down or speed up based on how much time I had left. I could have internal dialogs while continuing to speak on the material I was presenting. I could evaluate myself while presenting. I could do this because the actual presenting of the material has become very familiar.

That’s not to say I’m a fantastic speaker. I recognize where I still have room to improve in my talks. But there’s a level of ease that comes that wasn’t there 10 years ago.


Someone says, “oh I could never get on stage and present a talk!” And as cliché as it sounds, if I can do it, you can do it. It might be overwhelming at first. It might be scary. But in time, it’ll get easier.

Published March 31, 2016
Categorized as Conferences
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Peter Wilson said on March 31, 2016

It's always worth remembering the audience is on the side of the speaker, everyone in the room knows it can be nerve racking & wants the speaker to do well.

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