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Public Speaking Class with Josh Constine

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
    • 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

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

  • 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

This was originally posted on my personal blog, If you want to watch the bonus YouTube video, you'll need to check it out over there ;)

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