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Improving my UX presentation skills has benefits that go beyond the actual presentation. I have found that the anxiety built up around talking in front of peers, stakeholders, and supervisors are just a small part compared to the potential positive impacts to my career and influence in the community. This year I have made it my goal to present more in conferences. My journey to speak has started long before I made that goal. Here are the five reasons that have helped me to get up to the front of the room.

1. Gain Clarity by organizing your ideas

People will listen to you more if you are clear and confident with your ideas. Through presenting and teaching, I have worked to eliminate social cues that show hedging and ultimately lack of confidence. Small things like overusing “ummm’s” can cause you to lose people’s attention.

This does not mean you have to barrel your way into every conversation. There is a nuance with how you listen, how you respond, and how you offer your insight.

Here is a post on the building communication skills for designers.

2. Share stories that move you

People connect with stories that inspire change. The best lessons come from those who have failed, reflected, and shared. Glyn Thomas, in his talk about the year his entire design team quit, pulled the audience through his emotions as he rebounded from losing the team he built. Through that pain, we all found something familiar with our own experiences.

3. Connect with people for growth

In every talk, workshop, and class that I have done, people have come up wanting to share their own experiences or advice. Each encountered, I have learned that there is a mix of people looking to learn more from my or help me along with my journey. Either way, I have grown my community and connected with people who can help me push my boundaries

4. Become an authority in your space

If you research, write and speak about a specific topic, you will get better at understanding it. Simply by investing the time in it, you have done more than 90% of your peers. This may get you at the level of rubbing elbows with experts who are versed in the niche you are pursuing. It does not mean that you will have to compete with them. There are opportunities to find gaps in the areas they are covering. Become an expert covering a need that no one else has identified.

5. UX Presentation Skills get you a seat at the table

Building confidence in delivering your message and offering value to your audience will give you access to a higher level of decision makers. Presenting elevates you from the group that is carrying out orders to those who are leading. You are not an authoritarian, but you will have the chance to craft or influence a vision for your community to march towards.

Closing thoughts

Improving your UX presentation skills has impacts beyond the actual presentation. I have found that once people have seen that I can deliver my point, my interactions have matured, and the conversations have evolved along with them. Speaking has helped me get out of my seat and offer ideas that help my peers work a little differently.

Here are upcoming and past events including my talk for TEDx San Antonio.

Matt Eng

Matt Eng

DesignOps Manager. Based in Austin,TX. Worked with clients such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ogilvy, RBC, Deloitte, Whirlpool, Polycom, Symantec, and Pebble. Matt teaches, mentors, and speaks about design, creativity, and fostering stronger connections within teams.