This week I was fortunate enough to present my first major conference talk - the 2018 Lead Developer conference at Austin TX. Wanted to jot down my reflections and notes for future talks.
Applying to Speak
The biggest step was the leap of faith in submitting. At the point of submitting, I only started with a germ of an idea. It was a mentor who helped pick a catchy title, and articulate the idea better in the summary. This early feedback was crucial.
The selection process
Why did I get selected? To be honest I’m still not sure. Maybe the topic was good, but the cynical part of me doesn’t want to believe that. It keeps saying it had to do with company sponsorship. Frankly, even if that’s true I still don’t quite care. It’s one of the reasons I joined ThoughtWorks, to get those opportunities, so I’ll take the opportunities provided.
Preparing the Talk
Narrative structure. Shortening from 1 hour to 30 mins to 10 mins (get to the point!)
Listening to videos of other speakers.
Feedback. Over and over. Clarity of idea, narrative flow, originality, even things like readability of slides, the color combination of your deck, all matter.
Practice practice practice. Till you can give it without even having slides.
How do you say something original on a topic that so many people have already spoken about? Focus on authenticity, not authority. Speak to what you know best.
Presenting the Talk
Be a good citizen. Always come in under time. To do this - don’t speed up; give up slides. Find ways to tighten your narrative.
I’m hooked! Conference speaking was an exhilarating experience, and I’m now looking for opportunities to do it again!
Also made so many friends, met some amazing people, and felt like I belonged.
- Intellectual v/s Emotional talks: my style was well suited to the intellectual, analytical nature of the topic. There are other tricks I learnt from others: in emotional topics, speak with more urgency. Higher pitch, and/or higher volume can help. “I wish we had more time to talk” tells your audience there’s a lot more where that came from.
- Intellectual talks are well and good, but emotional talks resonate
- Present sound bytes. Quotable quotes. Words were literally being quoted verbatim on social media, pictures were being taken, of slides that had some profundity.
- One point, made well with a great story, makes more impact than 10 great points sprinkled throughout the talk.
|Levelling Up: The Way of the Lead Developer||Patrick Kua||30 mins|
|Building Tech for the Non-Technical||Laurie Barth||10 min|
|The Team-Changing Magic of 1:1s||Adrienne Lowe||30 min|
|Building Engineering Teams Under Pressure||Julia Grace||30 min|
|Tackling the Big, Impossible Project||Michele Titolo||10 min|
|Your Customers Don’t Care About Five-Nines Reliability;
They Care About Five-Nines Customer Service
|Kishore Jalleda||30 min|
|5 Ways You Can Hire Better||VM Brasseur||10 min|
|Leadership Through the Underground Railroad||Anjuan Simmons||30 min|
|Do the Most Good||Mina Markham||30 min|
|Reclaiming the Spirit of Agile||yours truly||10 min|
|The Death of Data: Retention, Rot, and Risk||Heidi Waterhouse||30 min|
|Vault and Security as a Service||Patrick Shields||10 min|
|True Tales of Building Microservices||Karl Hughes||10 min|
|I’m Lazy So I Write Tests||Jaime Lopez||10 min|
|Who Destroyed Three Mile Island?||Nickolas Means||30 min|