Speakers are Experts

Ted Demopoulos
A Rare “Ted in Suit” Picture

Rockstars are experts, and many are speakers.

If you are “the Speaker” you are automatically considered an expert.

Some of you will immediately revolt here, as you claim you do not know enough yet to speak and maybe you are terrified of speaking.

We all have useful information we can share!

First of all, we all have useful information we can share.

Maybe you only have one year in Infosec, but is there a case study from work of interest that you can share? If not the details, perhaps just “lessons learned?

Or maybe you have researched something you are interested in, and can talk for a few minutes? Maybe even something like home router security or home security systems or cameras?

No one is asking you to speak for 5 or 6 days as I often do, just to get up for a few minutes and speak.

You get better at speaking by speaking

There are groups like Toastmasters, a non-profit club that exists to help people “improve their communication, public speaking, and leadership skills.” Many of my friends have joined to develop and improve their speaking skills. It is dirt cheap, and even in semi-rural New Hampshire there are 12 clubs within 25 miles of me.

Conferences and User Groups always need Speakers

There are lots of conferences and local user groups that always need speakers. You probably cannot start at Black Hat or RSA or ShmooCon, but you may be able to speak at BSides (and they have specific Security BSides too), other smaller conferences, and local user groups.

Hey, if you just wanted more experience speaking, Rotary International and similar service groups always need speakers.

You could also speak on a unrelated topic to get experience

I’ve spoken on Fly Fishing for Striped Bass, Champagne, and Ham Radio for example.

Honestly, I should speak at more events like ShmooCon, DEFCON, BSides etc. But I’m just too busy and travel enough already. When it was earlier in my career however I often spoke at 6-12 conferences a year, not including ones that paid me.

The majority of talks you’ll give will be for free, but we need to mention that some talks pay. A lot of gigs pay $5000 to $10,000 and way up per speech, but that space is super competitive, few people making their living just from speaking (training being an exception), and prices are driven by fame.

A True Rock Star can make significant money speaking!

The Secret: Speaking is Easy

Remember when you speak that the audience wants to like you!

Smile, look at the audience, and relax. I always show up early and leave late. Sometimes I’ll even sit in the audience and get to know a few people, so once I get up to speak, I already know a few people in the audience!

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    • Smitty
    • December 26, 2014

    Joining Toastmasters which is DIRT CHEAP has been one of the best things I’ve done for my career. I learned how to speak and present among other things.

    I have a slight stutter and was self conscious always – my slight stutter will never be entirely gone but it doesn’t matter. I can command a room now – the transformation, and “transformation” is the correct word, has been amazing.

    Three thumbs up for Toastmasters!

      • Ted Demopoulos
      • December 26, 2014


      Many of my friends and colleagues also sing the praises of Toastmasters, ranging from College Professors, to Pentesters, to Virtual Memory Theorists.
      It’s great you took the initiative!
      You have three thumbs ? 🙂

    • Ron
    • January 30, 2015

    I recently spoke for a local group (Rotary) on Cybersecurity. I AM not a speaker, but am starting to speak – and it is amazing how being “the speaker” immediately positioned me as an Expert!

    I was apprehensive, but the talk went well. Hope to work my way up to bigger talks and maybe someday one of the big Cons!

    • Mary
    • September 19, 2015

    Last week I sat in the worst presentation I may ever have seen professionally. The speaker was neither informed nor prepared. I was politely but everyone else though he was impressive just because he was the one speaking!
    Yup, speaking makes people think you are an expert – it helps if you also ARE some kind of expert too!

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