For months my good friend @satish has been pushing me to give a conf proposal. I am not the type who gives talks. The thought of conference talk just scared me as i have never given one!!. I have finally put up some of our solutions for problems we faced at work as proposals. And my nightmare came true. One of my proposal got selected!!. :(. I was happy and scared at the same time. I have fierce stage fright.
At school I have participated in an elocution and froze up in front of around 400 audience. I did not utter a single word and came back silently from the podium. Even during my education in US, whenever I did a presentation none of the students ever understood the content except the professors. I did give my Thesis presentation in front of three professors, but they always understood whatever the heck I am saying because they already know everything.
Now coming back to my preparation, I have created the slides. At first iteration they are awful. Full of text. Everything I have to say is already on the slides. I am not adding anything. One can pretty much read and understand everything without me.
I did the first rehearsal before my colleagues. I got some valuable feedback.
- The slides are boring
- I am reading from the slides
- There is no humor!!
- Too much text
- I am skipping important parts
- Some of them even can’t understand what I am saying!!
- I am shivering and going way too fast
- My brain is freezing on some slides (lack of proper preparation)
So I am still battling with these problems, I came across my old friend Bill Hunt and asked him for advise. He told me
Do not think of it as giving a speech, think of it as talking about your idea. People do not want to make mistakes when they give a speech. If you believe in what your saying and say it with passion and enthusiasm they will believe it too.
A change in perspective indeed!! A conference talk is not a speech!
Following the advise of my colleagues and my friends I have changed my slides. I reduced the text to few key points. Less text, more images, some funny pictures appropriate for the theme of my talk. I have replaced some of the slides with flow charts so that the audience will understand it easily without reading too much. I thought of it as presenting my idea to a group of people who have moderate idea of the theme of my topic but never done it in the way I have presented!!
The day before the conference talk, I did the second rehearsal before another group of my colleagues. This time it is way better than the first time. I got more feedback on where I am lacking and noted those parts. Out of time for more practice!!
Finally, the day of conference came!! I had a great sleep the night before, I reached conference late :(. I was still nervous. And finally the time came. I am up for the talk. I went on the podium, everything was set-up for the talk and introduced myself (still shaking). First few slides of my talk made the audience laugh, gave me a huge relief. Then continued with next slides. I have observed some of the audience are responding to my presentation positively. I focused only on them. Instead of looking at only one person, I have been kind of looking around, noticing the few audience, interested in my talk, this gave me the confidence. And there I am able to finish it successfully without a hitch from there on. One of the audience even asked me a question (YAY!!). Now here I am waiting for send a proposal for the next conference 🙂
Without the push from my friends, and support and constant reassurance from my colleagues @cybrilla, I would not have been able to do this.
Its too early for me to give advise to anybody!! but here are the few points I am making a note to myself in case I forget these in future
- Conference Talk is not making speeches in public
- Its about presenting your idea with passion
- People like humor
- Audience are not there to grill you 😛
- Practice & Practice && Practice!!
And finally remembering my workout poster which says
“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you It’s going to be worth it.”
BTW: Proposals for Rubyconf India are open. Just go and propose!! I have already done it.
Disclaimer:- The information, views, and opinions contained in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cybrilla.