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Speaking For Developers


  • The person at the front of the room has an outsized influence on the world.
  • You can become a perceived expert and are imbued with authority.


1. Pick a topic

A good topic is something you care about. Good sign: you're already talking about it to small groups.

Choosing something you want to learn is a bit risky.

Doesn't have to be technical though. Many conferences/meetups like to mix in non-technical topics. Tangentially-related is okay (What Rubyists can learn from X).

2. Create a five-minute lightning talk

Lightning talks are easier to create due to forced simplicity. They also limit the risk of boring people, which is the biggest danger. It's also easy to find places to give them (at work, meetups, etc.).

Creation tips: 1. Figure out your thesis. 2. Get to the point and stay there. (Kill your intro.) 3. Show, don't tell. 4. Practice until you can nail the 5-minute time limit every time.

3. Give it

  1. Give it at work. Get feedback and make the talk better.
  2. Give it at a meetup. Ask people to tweet feedback at you. Save the good ones!
  3. Consider turning it into a conference talk.

Each new level you reach has more intensity but more rewards.

4. How to write a proposal

Maybe for a new talk, or an expanded version of your lightning talk.

Tips: * Realize it's a sales pitch. Make it sound utterly fascinating and incredibly useful. * Bad: I'll demonstrate the basics of the rails_admin gem * Better: A few weeks ago I deleted 5,000 lines of custom admin code * Think of your audience: * Reviewers reading the CFP (bored-ish, skeptical) * Attendees reading the description (considering other talks, the beach, etc.) * Sound excited! * Include your social proof that you gathered at the meetup.

Tips for during the talk

How to deal with nerves: * Accept them. I still get nervous. * Find your "nodder" (or plant one) * Fake confidence if necessary. You owe it to the audience!

Further resources