The Benefits of Public Speaking for Testers
A speaking opportunity, whether it is an internal presentation or an external conference, calls for its own level of preparation. Understanding what topic to take to the audience, how best to present the content, and what content and examples to discuss are all key aspects a speaker needs to plan and prepare for. With every such speaking opportunity, the speaker gains proficiency, clarity in thought, and experience that increases comfort over time.
But there is a time when you need to step out of your comfort zone and grab the first speaking chance that comes along. I say this just days before our upcoming internal technical symposium at QA InfoTech, which happens every September. We had several proposals come in, and we sifted through them over the last couple of months to pick ten speakers to hit the stage. As I was finalizing this program, it struck me that such a speaking opportunity has so much to offer the growth of a tester.
Sharpens articulation skills: As a tester, communication skills are very important. You talk with stakeholders about product quality and risks on a daily basis. A speaking opportunity before a large and diverse audience forces you to articulate and communicate your thoughts as clearly as possible.
Improves end-user-focused mindset: As you prepare to speak in front of a crowd, you think about what the audience expects from you and what kinds of questions they may have, and you plan your answers in advance. Such end-user focus, when brought into testing, gives a tester an edge.
Promotes optimization capabilities: Speaking slots are always timeboxed—even more so when you just have fifteen minutes or so to finish your presentation. In such cases, you are juggling your thoughts and optimizing them to see what you can say to best convey your message. This activity comes in handy in testing, too, when you have to optimize what to test within the given constraints in order to maximize your return on investment.
Gives a jump start to exploratory thinking: Any amount of advance planning on its own will not suffice in a speaking opportunity. You have to be quick in your thought process to answer questions and handle contingencies that arise. Such exploratory situational behaviour is a valuable trait to carry back into a testing effort to promote creativity and enhance test coverage.
Makes room for better organizational skills: All the above preparation sharpens the individual’s organizational skills, which are valuable in software testing.
As a tester, if you have been avoiding a speaking opportunity, go claim one today. You will see yourself grow in the above areas every time you present.