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Pachi 🥑
Pachi 🥑

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

How to choose a topic for your Talk and/or Workshop

Hi there :)

I got sick AGAIN so my mushy brain didn't know what to write about last week.
BUT I am back to write as usual, of something that has been in my mind for these last few weeks...

Giving a talk // Leading a workshop

This was one of my 2020 goals that were kinda wishy-washy because the idea of the talk is scary. But when my favorite conference, Codeland announced that my favorite community,, was now a part of it, I knew I really want to be a part of their first conference together somehow.

So I went to a Workshop for the first time Speaker. It helped to be from a Drupal conference and I know nothing of Drupal😅 but I had some good take away from that workshop and would love to share that with you.

You don't have to be an Expert

And this is usually the first thing that stops us. Like, I am not good enough at anything, so what will I talk about?
Truth is, there will be always someone that knows more than you, but guess what? It goes the other way around too! People start in tech every day, so there is always someone learning from 0 and they may learn from you. Don't think about what you are an expert of, think in the lines of what you are passionate about, what are you comfortable with?


Now, the first actual step is to Brainstorm step. I know it seems obvious, but we often overthink this.
So here is a little exercise:

  • Get a pen and paper (yes, the real stuff),
  • Put a timer on for 15 minutes,
  • Write down ANYTHING and everything that comes in mind that could you could possibly talk about. -Try to have at least 20 items on your least, but the more the merrier folks.

Remember, you don't have to be a PRO. You may even use something You would like to learn more about, and working on this talk/workshop will help you to learn more about it.

In case you need some help, here are some inspiring questions:

  • What got you into Programming?
  • What keeps you in it?
  • What do you love about it?
  • What do you want to learn next?
  • What are you learning currently?
  • What sorts of things do you love sharing with others about Programming?
  • What cool things you've built?
  • Which tools do you use all the time?

Classifying your ideas and picking THE topic

Okay, so now you have a nice long list full of ideas.
Good ideas, random ideas, bad ideas... I bet some don't even make much sense at all lol And that is OK, that is why we brainstorm to begin with.
But Pachi, now I have a gigantic list, how do I choose?
How, indeed?

Now you can get your laptop out if you want, or just keep the pen and paper, either is fine. We gonna classify your ideas.

  • First, let's write down your bad ideas or the ones that don't make much sense.
  • Now write down the ones that are good and you feel can actually lead somewhere.
  • Last but not least, what is left? Probably topics you can improve or work in the near future. Save those.

Of course, we want to work with the Good ideas. How many do you have?
If you have one or two, congrats, you have found your Topic if not...

Choosing based on where you wanna present it

If you have more than that, we may still want to narrow it down.
For that, lets now think about the conference you wanna speak. For the sake of this example, Codeland is the conference, and we will focus on Talk rather than a workshop.
SO we go to their website, check their CFP and see what they are looking for:

Talks are 15 minutes. Pick from our themes below:
Be Amazed
Exciting applications for new (non-proprietary) technologies.
The Big Picture
Thought-provoking stories about how code is affecting society.
Deep Dive
Dives into fundamental concepts that could affect how we think about software development.

So now we know that the talks are 15 minutes and have an idea of what they are looking for. Which of our topis fits in? And from those, which one can you talk more passionately about?
And ta daaaan, you have your topic! YEY!!!

Let's review

-So first we brainstorm and come up with as many ideas as we can, even if some are terrible, that is ok (check that list of questions for extra help),
-Classify those ideas, and see what you can work with right now,
-Think about where you want to present, and see which of your ideas fit their requirements and attendees,
-Choose the one topic you will work with! (Save the rest for later).

In conclusion

Is there a conclusion? I am not good at those.
But yes, all you need to get started is a topic, and now hopefully you have a topic that you know enough about (or will apply yourself to learn more), are passionate about and that makes sense for the place where you want to present.
Yey, I am soo happy for you.

If you are still in doubt in between a few, feel free to shout out and maybe I can help you to validate your ideas.

Maybe if there is interest, I may keep this as HOW to get started with the proposal writing, we shall see.

Thank you for reading darlings and let me know what you think,


Top comments (8)

recursivefaults profile image
Ryan Latta

I'm hoping to submit for Codeland as well! I've been speaking at conferences steadily for about 2 years now.

My process involves most of what you covered. I do have maybe two different ways to go through my list of ideas:

  • What am I excited about?
  • Is this a topic I'd go on and on about if nobody stopped me?
pachicodes profile image
Pachi 🥑

Those are some great questions! Do you mind if I ask to the list? 😁

recursivefaults profile image
Ryan Latta

Please do :)

Thread Thread
pachicodes profile image
Pachi 🥑

Thank you!!!!

taity_045 profile image

This is actually a good talk.

pachicodes profile image
Pachi 🥑

Lol didn't think if that, thanks!

pachicodes profile image
Pachi 🥑

Great tip!!!

furlan profile image
Flávio Furlan

"You don't have to be an Expert" was one of the best advise I could takeaway! I always thing on that when I'm thinking about a topic.