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Poornima Vijayashanker

Poornima Vijayashanker

Palo Alto, CA

Poornima Vijayashanker is the founder at Femgineer, an education company that helps empower engineers, founders, and product leads to transform their ideas into tangible, high-impact products.

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About the author

Poornima is an avid public speaker who speaks around the world on topics ranging from engineering to entrepreneurship, and has a monthly web show called FemgineerTV sponsored by Pivotal Tracker. Watch the show and a number of her talks on the Femgineer YouTube Channel:

Poornima has also been an entrepreneur-in-residence at 500 Startups, where she advises companies on product development, technical recruiting, growth, and fundraising.

She was a lecturer at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, and the founding engineer at, where she helped build, launch and scale the product until its acquisition in 2009.

When she’s not building products or companies, she enjoys Bikram yoga, rock climbing, and running. Poornima lives in sunny Palo Alto, CA.

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Karen Catlin

Karen Catlin is an advocate for women in the tech industry. She is a leadership coach for women and an advisor to tech companies on improving gender diversity.

Last year she delivered her first TEDx talk: Women in Tech - The Missing Force

Formerly, Karen was a vice president at Adobe Systems, where she led corporate-wide product globalization, software security, and other cross company functions within the office of the CTO.

Outside of her commercial ventures Karen works with a number of non-profits leveraging her same passion. She’s on the Board of Directors of The CLUB, an incubator of women leaders. Through Brown University Women's Launch Pad, she mentors young women about to start their careers.

In 2015, the California State Assembly honored her with the Wonder Women Tech Innovator Award for outstanding achievements in business and technology and for being a role model for women.

Karen holds a degree in Computer Science from Brown University.

She lives in San Mateo with her husband and their two children. In her spare time, she designs jewelry and knitwear.





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The Techie's Guide to Engaging an Audience

Gain the confidence you need to step into the spotlight with a proven process for overcoming stage fright, extracting your expertise, and engaging any audience.

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Technology & the Future Public Speaking
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Why did we write this book?

It's happened to all of us. A promotion denied. Feeling stuck in our careers. Frustrated by the recognition others get while we're overlooked, even if we work just as hard as they do (if not harder).

Maybe you've tried to push your career forward by taking a class to learn a new technical skill, by blogging or tweeting, or by investing time in work-related relationships.

To grow your career even more, you know what you need to do, as scary as it seems: speak in public.

When we realized we should speak in public, we took the plunge and started giving talks in the tech community. Were we nervous? Yes. Did we make mistakes along the way? Absolutely. But we stuck with it, and we are now confident presenters who regularly give talks at conferences, corporate events, and public speaking workshops around the world.

We wrote this book to help others grow their careers through public speaking, whether that means speaking up in meetings, volunteering to deliver presentations to customers, or going onstage at a conference. Speaking can be a great way to catapult your career because it provides the visibility you need to be considered for the next big opportunity, and exposes you to new relationships and collaborations.

Who is this book for?

This book is for you if you consider yourself a “techie."

You may be an engineer, product manager, online marketer, designer, or tech entrepreneur. Perhaps you're a junior employee at a big company, a senior expert in your field, or a startup founder.

All techies have opportunities to give presentations, and sometimes these presentations are required to do a job well. For example, you might:

  • showcase a project to your teammates or upper management at work;
  • present your product to potential customers or current clients;
  • deliver a tech talk at your company; or
  • give a talk or even the keynote speech at a major industry conference.

You'll find that giving a presentation can be fulfilling in any context because, when you get down to it, you're helping other techies like yourself. You're sharing your knowledge, expertise, and anecdotes to make their lives easier, and to empathize with their struggles. We believe that generosity is the root of excellent public speaking.

And there are plenty of things to speak about:

  • Technical topics such as programming languages and frameworks, design methodologies, and product-building tools.
  • Tech-based business topics such marketing through SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), and retargeting.
  • Personal development topics such as strategies to thrive in your career and find creative expression as a techie.
  • Feel like you don't have anything to say? We'll show you how to find the pearls of wisdom and engaging stories hidden in your past, both distant and recent. Your experiences are rich fodder for helpful and inspiring talks.
  • Get nervous when you're in the spotlight? Stage fright is common among both inexperienced and experienced public speakers, so we'll share strategies to help you fight it, appear confident, and engage your audience so they learn as much as possible.
  • Looking to give your first talk ever? Follow the exercises in this book to develop a presentation and practice it before the big day.
  • Want to land higher-profile speaking gigs? We'll provide you with techniques that add polish to your repertoire, such as Q&A tips, methods of fine-tuning your body movements and voice, strategies for handling tough audiences, and how to leverage previous talks to garner bigger gigs.

It's taken us twenty years to write this book. During that time, we have studied the greats, given hundreds of our own talks to thousand of people, and sought to continually improve our skill and understanding behind what makes a great public speaker.

We broke down our own techniques into a series of steps and exercises, and sought to simplify years of trial-and-error into practical techniques. What resulted was the Confident Communicator Course, and the first draft of our new book, and glowing feedback from techies like yourself.

We strongly believe that this book needed to be written, and it has become our mission to inspire, teach, and empower fellow techies on how to present with confidence, authority, and style.

Table of Contents

We ordered the chapters based on a process we use in our online public speaking course called Femgineer's Confident Communicator Course. The goal of this course is to put together a talk from scratch — whether it's a presentation to supervisors, customers, or hundreds of people in a conference hall.

  • Introduction
  • Part I: Get Ready for Your Public Speaking Journey
    • Chapter 1: Get Over Stage Fright
    • Chapter 2: Explore Your Style
  • Part II: Create Your Talk
    • Chapter 3: Find a Topic
    • Chapter 4: Identify Your Ideal Audience
    • Chapter 5: Tell a Story
    • Chapter 6: Write a Persuasive Proposal
    • Chapter 7: Develop and Practice Your Talk
  • Part III: Polish Your Presence and Delivery
    • Chapter 8: Use Your Body and Voice to Engage Your Audience
    • Chapter 9: Finesse Q&A Sessions
    • Chapter 10: Handle Hecklers and Tough Audiences
    • Chapter 11: Create Stunning Slides
  • Part IV: Nail Any Type of Talk
    • Chapter 12: Prepare a Lightning Talk
    • Chapter 13: Prepare a Long-Form Talk
    • Chapter 14: Speak on Panels (and Moderate Them)
    • Chapter 15: Increase Your Talk's Reach with the Web
    • Chapter 16: Become a Meeting Maven
  • Epilogue
  • About the Authors

Part I, Get Ready for your Public Speaking Journey, helps you get in the public-speaker mindset. You'll learn our tricks for overcoming stage fright and developing your personal public speaking style.

Part II, Your Talk Topic, guides you toward finding an interesting topic for a presentation, turning it into a formal proposal, and developing it into a talk complete with storytelling and unforgettable takeaways.

Part III, Stellar Presence and Delivery, gives you techniques for using your body language and voice to keep your audience engaged. We'll also cover dicey situations like handling tough audiences and difficult Q&A session questions.

Part IV, Nail Any Type of Talk, covers the differences between a lightning talk and a long-form talk, how to moderate and speak on a panel, and how to repurpose your presentation for the web to give it a second life.

Chapter 16, the last chapter, shows you how these same public speaking techniques can help you excel in common workplace situations. You'll learn how to get support for your ideas and work-related projects from supervisors and cross-functional co-workers. You'll also get tips on how to ace one-on-ones, team meetings, and customer meetings.

Even if you've spoken many times, we highly recommend you read each chapter. You might discover new strategies and practical tips. Each chapter includes our personal stories, stories from our students, and exercises to help you improve your public speaking skills.

Treat this book like you would treat a cookbook. If you've cooked anything before, you know that missing an ingredient or skipping a step can be a “recipe" for disaster. Start from the beginning and try each exercise before progressing to the next one, because they build on one another.

Public speaking is a visual and auditory art and some techniques are best conveyed through pictures and videos, so we have included an interactive bundle filled with video tutorials.

An All Star Team That Is Sure to Deliver

We're excited to bring Present! into the hands of thousands of readers through:

  • Promotion in Femgineer's popular newsletter to global community of email subscribers
  • Promotion to Femgineer's, Poornima Vijayashanker's, and Karen Catlin's network on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites, including ProductHunt.
  • Pre-order campaigns
  • Corporate sponsorship packages
  • 6 speaking engagements at conferences worldwide
  • Amazon Kindle distribution

We've tested all these strategies with success while marketing our first book, How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products.

While we are self-publishing this book, we have invested a lot of time and resources into delivering a polished book for you. We are working closely with our editor: Nathalie Arbel, our designer: Pauly Ting, and the book will be printed by the high quality printer: Edition One Books.

The e-book version will be sent out by the first week of November 2015, and the print version will be mailed by the second week of November 2015.

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