For the most recent PushON Women in Tech meetup, we had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca Rae-Evans from The Federation. She came in to share her career journey and her mission about ethics and public speaking.
Bex left school and started an engineering apprenticeship where she was the only female in her team, which didn’t concern her as she naturally got along with everyone.
Career & Ethical Mission
At this point in life, she wasn’t interested in ethics and got on with her career. Later on she moved on from engineering to the tech industry. During school she was involved in Young Enterprise and the Youth Parliament, where she worked with her peers for a political party. This became a stepping stone that elevated her in public speaking, and gave her the confidence to do public speaking from a young age – now it’s just natural for Bex because she has done it for years.
It’s been over 13 years since Bex joined the tech industry, and she’s contributed to many international conferences and public speaking events, including the recent UX Copenhagen. During this time, Bex has been on a mission to promote her ethical lifestyle and work, which is why she has started Tech for Good Live and the Inclusion Coalition which seeks to resolve a lot of the inequalities – her uncompromising declaration being “it’s still a fucking problem”.
Although not all of us are interested in public speaking, it was great to have Bex in to give us inspiration and uplift some of the girls’ confidence when delivering sales pitches and presenting things to a number of people. Getting over the fear factor is a great challenge that many people struggle with, so we wanted to get techniques on ways in which we can tackle it.
Bex has done many panellist talks and even a TEDx talk which she admitted to watching after a year of it coming out. Here are her main takeaways:
- Practice, then practice some more.
- Tape yourself and watch it back. You’ll pick up on some of the habits and can work on improving them.
- Every person repeats at least one thing multiple times.
- Be honest and tell personal stories to engage your audience.
- The people watching are usually sympathetic and want to see you do well.
- Don’t force comedy; it can go terribly wrong if you’re not a funny person.
Talk Club is a great concept that Bex came up with. It’s an exercise to get people warmed up for public speaking and gives the chance to collaborate and give feedback to one another on what they can improve on. It’s a concept which works your brain and doesn’t give you too much time to overthink about speaking, and is a bit of a distraction so that you are focused solely on what you care about speaking on and don’t have time to get nervous.
You use a random topic generator and have 10 minutes to come up with a minute-long speech. I actually took part in this myself, when I was in a room full of strangers at a CFP Public Speaking workshop that Rebecca had organised. I got presented with the word ‘emotion’ and had just enough time to spin something up to do with different perceptions and used a personal example – I know; very random.
We don’t speak about Talk Club, but on a serious note, practice makes perfect. So whether you are preparing for a sales pitch or applying to speak on a panel, watch yourself back on video; you’ll be able to pick up things that you can improve on. Also, encourage constructive feedback from your peers. Finally, good luck!
Below are some links if you want to find out more about Bex and what she’s up to…
Check out the previous Women in Tech meetup with Tracey Drain.