Note: There are extra line breaks after some nested unordered list. The Dev.to team is looking into it. Oh and Sticker Mule is hiring =)
My first talk was at WordCamp LA in 2011. Ever since then I kept an Evernote of things I have learned over the years. Hopefully, this might help someone.
- Travel the world on someone else’s dime
- Meet amazing people
- Get into conferences for free
- Get out of your comfort zone
- Speakers lounge (unlimited food and soft drinks plus connect with other speakers)
Hire a coach
- Investing in a coach is one of the best things you can do.
- Pro athletes rely on coaches, amateur speakers should too
- Find a coach that will give it to you straight and will give you constructive feedback not just “that’s shit”.
- If you can't afford/find a coach, ask a co-worker or friend who isn't afraid to give you constructive feedback.
There’s no such thing as perfect
- Don't obsess over a transition, design, wording, etc
- Just get it done
Use gifs/meme's sparingly
- Sometimes an animated gif/meme will work great
- If every slide is a gif/meme, it gets old
- Break it up with a real photo
Unsplash is great
- Can be used for commercial and noncommercial purposes.
- You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit
- Unsplash is great
- Make sure you know exactly what you are talking about
- Give credit on the slide
- Anticipate questions that will be asked
Conference organizers won’t be sitting there with a stop clock
- I use to worry that if I only had 20 min, I would get in trouble.
- Keynotes are carefully timed, a talk with less than 50 people in it won’t.
Expect low attendance (not a bad thing)
- Unless you or the company you work for are well known in the community, expect 2-20 attendees.
- My 2016 OSCON talk had ~10 people in it
- Conferences are very competitive, lots of tracks going on, expo halls with food and swag, etc.
- If more people show up then cool, but set realistic expectations.
- Honestly it doesn't matter how many people are at your talk, it is the quality.
Practice at meetups
- Just like comedians playing at small clubs before the big show
- Get feedback e.g. were the slides easy to read? etc
- Don’t assume the conference will provide you one, they usually don't: Liquid error: internal
Turn off all notifications on your laptop and phone
- Phone: DND + silent mode (not vibrate, silent)
- Laptop: Close Slack, Skype, basically the only program(s) that should be open are the ones that you will be using during your talk
Buy a wireless clicker
- Telling someone "next slide please" each time is lame
Logitech Wireless Presenter R400 Remote Control
- This is what the pros use, it is the best on the market
- It has a frickin laser!
Don’t walk over to the projected slide and point
- If you must use a laser, but even that sucks.
- Use actions/transitions to get the audience's attention.
Promote your talk
Learn the difference between Standard (4:3) and Widescreen (16:9)
- It’s no fun having to redo your slides to fit the required slide size
Panels are the best
- No practice or too much preparation needed.
Practice every day no matter what
- After breakfast, just get it out of the way.
- Ask friends if you can rehearse for them.
- Practice in the shower. Not joking.
Just be you, don’t mimic TED talks or any other speakers
If your CFP doesn’t get accepted, don’t take it personally.
Have all your videos/slide decks available publicly so you can link to them when organizers ask.
- If you don't have any, have a friend record you doing a lightning talk at a meetup. They are always looking for people to talk and don't care if you have any experience.
Encourage people to ask questions at the end.
- It could fuck up your flow
- If you don't have an answer, say something like "That's a great question, I honestly don't know the answer".
- You can also encourage the audience to give their answer/opinion if you want.
If people walk out
- Try not to focus on it too much
- Don't shame them i.e. don't say "thanks for walking out asshole"
- It's almost nothing you did, it just wasn't for them
Avoid live demos
- Even the best can't get them to work 99.99% of the time
Cover Photo by Marcos Luiz