We Are All Awesome

articles For Speakers waaa Blog

Excuses, Excuses!

You can only win a speaker slot if you enter the competition. If you were previously waiting for an invitation to speak: THIS IS YOUR INVITATION. SUBMIT YOUR TALK PROPOSAL TODAY.

Here is why you won’t, and why those reasons aren’t valid:

1. You think “I have nothing to talk about”

We all benefit from hearing different points of view. Your point of view and your way of expressing it is unique. You may think someone else has already expressed every idea or opinion you have, but no one but you possesses your particular combination of thoughts and ways of expressing them.

Talk about anything you know to any audience that doesn’t already know it. If you are afraid to talk about a programming topic to an audience of programmers, then talk about programming to designers, or talk about design to programmers.

In this short talk, Chiu-Ki Chan (@chiuki) shares her secret formula for finding ideas using only your brain and a notepad:

You can also talk about something brand new for you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything about the topic yet, either, since I promise you will know a lot about it when you give the talk. Giving a talk is a fantastic way to learn. Give the talk you want to hear.

2. You think “I’d be a terrible speaker”

You need only two things to be a great speaker: practice and confidence. The fastest route to confidence is practice, so really you just need practice. Practice means: rehearsing your talk a few times before giving it, but also giving more talks to get better at preparing them.

I started small: I gave a lightning talk which was just a book review at one of my local meet-ups. Then I gave an introductory how-to on making bookmarklets to the same group. The trick to getting started was that I chose a topic and an audience I felt really comfortable with, and progressed from there.

3. You think “I’m afraid of public speaking”

Why, because you are afraid of looking stupid in front of a crowd? PROTIP: Being afraid of looking stupid is actually a fantastic motivator for being well-prepared. Most of us are intimidated by public speaking. I’m afraid every single time, but then, because I’m prepared and I’ve practiced, everything goes well and I end up feeling great.

4. You think “I’m not nearly as nerdy and intense as some of those guys I’ve seen give talks”

GOOD. Those guys don’t represent programmers in general, and you should not compare yourself with them. Be you. That’s the whole point of having diverse people participate; for diverse viewpoints.

5. You think “But I’m not ready yet!”

All you need to prepare and submit is a talk proposal. Spend an evening sketching out an idea, and write up a paragraph describing the theme. If your proposal is accepted, then you can get to work on getting the talk prepared. If you are serious about getting involved as a speaker in general, then propose a short talk at your next local meet-up, and submit talk proposals at a few conferences.


If you need help brainstorming ideas, writing a talk proposal, making your slides, finding speaking engagements, or anything else please contact us.

Further Reading