I have lost count of the number of times that a student has come up to me and asked how to start giving talks. Back in 2019, Anusha approached me with the same. I thought of recording our conversation and putting it out on YouTube to everyone's good use. Since it's an hour-long video, I have condensed the important pointers in this newsletter issue. Won't take you more than 3 minutes to read.
I don't have enough knowledge.
And that is absolutely fine. There is just so much knowledge out there that there will always, ALWAYS be something left to learn. What you need to do is build depth, know a few things but know it well.
There's a pretty famous saying that I love to quote: There's nothing new under the sun. That is absolutely true. You may see a new framework evolve, but it's basically the same old concepts that are just used differently. So your role is to come up with an increment on top of what already exists. Ask yourself if you can provide that incremental value. And if you can, start working on your proposal now!
Where do I start?
If you are afraid or underconfident, start small. Go to lesser-known meetups where the audience size is not more than 50. Or even better, go to colleges. Whatever you teach is going to be the gospel of truth for the students. Moreover, since they do not have much knowledge, they tend to ask all sorts of questions that help clear your understanding.
If you are scared of speaking in front of developers or let's say, experienced professionals, start with communities. Every community that I have had the privilege of knowing has been extremely helpful and supportive. Even if you make a mistake, there will surely be someone who will correct you. I don't know about you but I would rather be a fool in front of 200 people if I come out wiser, than make the same mistake in front of 2k or 20k people.
How do I present?
That is something I cannot teach you. You need to build your own communication style, and that comes only with practice. Learn how to talk and present better. Make sure that the audience understands your content, use the principle of ELI5 while preparing the talk. Develop your personal style of presentation. People love stories. Tell them a story that builds suspense and keeps them bound to you throughout your talk. The soft skills developed in this process immensely help one proceed in their careers in the future as well.
Before starting out, make sure you have a portfolio ready. Even the most basic one would work. It acts as a place where people can go and contact you, and that plays a very important role in building your brand.
Onto the next level
You have built a good speaker profile through communities. Let's take you to international conferences. To speak at an international conference, you need to have a solid use case, a solid understanding of your topic, and a good story around it. You cannot go to an international conference if you haven't solved hard problems. The scale of such conferences may seem scary at times. If your CFP has been selected, it means that the organizer wants you to talk about it. All you need to do is just tell an exceptional story and put up a great show.
See you next Wednesday!
I am eagerly waiting to see you all in action behind the podiums, or for the time being, on my screen.
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