Thursday, 28 September 2017

My first time speaking at a conference

Since time immemorial we humans have valued the art of public speaking. Today, I want to share with you my experiences in speaking at conferences for the first time. Recently, I spoke at both DDD Melbourne and DDD Perth. Both of which were positive experiences that I learnt a lot in.

source: Wikipedia

So you may have been speaking at MeetUps, internal company events and/or Toastmasters and feel it's time to graduate to a full conference. Here are the things you have to take into consideration (based on my experience) when attempting to speak at a conference.

source: Sam Ritchie taking a picture of me @ Perth

Be prepared to have the talk that you least expect picked
I had submitted a few talks about newer technologies and big data. However, none of these had been chosen. Instead, I had a talk about automated testing chosen, a talk about best practice and something that experienced developers have probably heard before but probably wish to hear again. That's OK, if you're talk was voted in or selected by a panel, it probably means people want to see you succeed and are interested in what you have to say.

Practice, Practice, Practice!
I can't emphasis this enough. You may have gotten good at giving 15-20 minute talks at MeetUps and user groups, but a 45 minute talk is a lot more difficult. Your mouth will get dry, you may loose your chain of thought easier and it's physically more demanding. I hadn't practiced a lot prior to my DDD Melbourne talk and I think it was obvious to the audience. I did a bit more practice at DDD Perth and I think I did a lot better.

Live coding
Some feedback I received from Perth was to simplify live coding. Don't write a whole program (no matter how simple you may think it is) and expect other people to follow. Only demonstrate one or two methods so that people can follow what's going on.

Have fun and relax
Finally, you're there to have fun and relax. People don't want to see you fail, if they're at your talk it means they're interested in what you have to say anyway. Make a few jokes here and there and finally, ask for feedback on how you can improve for next time!

I hope the above has helped you all and I wish to encourage you all to give public speaking a chance!

Thanks you as always for reading.


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