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My first Conference talk experience @ gcrc 2015

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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.

  1. The slides are boring
  2. I am reading from the slides
  3. There is no humor!!
  4. Too much text
  5. I am skipping important parts
  6. Some of them even can’t understand what I am saying!!
  7. I am shivering and going way too fast
  8. 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

  1. Conference Talk is not making speeches in public
  2. Its about presenting your idea with passion
  3. People like humor
  4. Audience are not there to grill you 😛
  5. 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.

Slides Capacity Planning

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.