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COMPANY CULTURE

GitHub Employee: Public Speaking Is Good Business

Although making a speech may seem like torture to some, the software-development network's Zach Holman says it's the most effective marketing you can do.

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Some people fear public speaking even more than death. Those people should not work for GitHub, the software-development network. 

According to early employee Zach Holman, who blogged on the subject on Wednesday, "somewhere between a third and a half of GitHub's 240 employees gave a talk in 2013." 

That wasn't because Holman enjoys making people uncomfortable or is keen on trying to draw them out of their shell. He thinks it's in the San Francisco-based startup's best interest to have employees talk openly--and frequently--about their experiences. It makes them better teachers, establishes company culture, and saves a ton of money on networking, he writes. Here's why: 

Better Speakers Make Better Teachers 

"You don't truly know something until you've taught it to others," writes Holman, who stresses the value of "reading documentation you haven't read before, rewiring your brain to account for perspectives you hadn't considered before, and becoming far more familiar with the concept than you had been previously." If you're forced to explain what you do to 100 people, you'd better believe you're going to get it down pat.  

Public Speaking Enriches Your Culture 

Speaking about your business is one way to sell it, but internally it nurtures your company culture. Holman calls this "public documentation." The company's talks annd blog posts, he writes, help new employees to "already have a rough idea about how things are done," and serve as guidelines when discussing GitHub's culture among colleagues. "When someone mentions asynchronous workflow in the company," Holman writes, "we all have a foundational understanding of what it means and what it doesn't."  

It's Good Advertising

Holman says sending employees to speak at conferences and networking events is probably the best way to sell your company, not to mention an effective way to get a feel for what customers want and who you might want to work with down the line. All too often, he writes, startups rely on people outside the company to get things done, when often it's easier to tap into their own network. 

IMAGE: Flickr/Tim Lucas
Last updated: Jan 15, 2014

JILL KRASNY is the associate editor for Inc. Previously, she was editor at Business Insider and has held positions at TheStreet and Reader's Digest. Krasny is a graduate of the University of Southern California, holding a degree in communication.
@jillkrasny




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