Shloka Shah
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My First Tech Talk

My First Tech Talk

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Shloka Shah
·Jan 25, 2023·

4 min read

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It was an afternoon in September & I was having a discussion with Hari. While discussing, he gave me a new task Talking. This is a screenshot of what we wrote in a document. In the next 6 months, I had to first attend a conference & then give one external tech talk.

Being my first time doing one, the prospect of presenting a Tech Talk was both exciting and scary.

Now that I had to give a talk, the most important thing was to find a conference. Since I had been working on Ruby on Rails, the idea was to find a Ruby-related conference and submit the CFP there.

In November, I came across the Ruby on Rails Global Summit by Geekle. I intended to attend this summit, observe the speakers' presentations, and then submit a CFP for any upcoming Ruby conferences I could find. The CFPs were still open though.

I told my idea to Hari, he convinced me that since the CFPs are open, I should submit one & if I don't get selected I can always come back to attend the summit. This way my plan of attending the summit was now changed to speaking at the summit.

Submitting the CFP

Since the CFPs had been open for some time, many of the topics I was thinking to speak on were already taken. I finally decided to speak on Rubocop, since I had been working on it for some time. The plan was to show a live demo on modifying cops & showing the before & after results. After various iterations on the abstract & title I finally submitted my first ever CFP - Enhancing Code Quality with Rubocop.

During mid-December, Liliya from the Geekle team reached out & yes the CFP was accepted, I was now giving my very first Tech Talk.

Preparing for the Talk

Since the talk was in January, I was pretty chilled out when I received the acceptance. I had already written a blog on Rubocop so I felt that I could manage the talk.

When I got another email with information on the platform we would be utilizing and promotional banners for my talk, that's when I started to freak out as I realized the scale of the conference. To make sure everything was set up, I was requested to schedule a test call with the technical team.

During the technical call, they walked me through the Streamyard platform, how screen sharing works, and all other minor details.

When the call was over, that's when I first felt tense. I started overthinking even simple things like screen sharing because I was so new to the platform. What if I share the wrong screen or my internet goes out? Furthermore, I had to code live in front of my audience. What happens if my code malfunctions? I began to wonder if I ought to have recorded the presentation beforehand and submitted it. But it was time to push past your comfort level.

To avoid any problems that might arise during the discussion, the idea was to prepare the slides and run through the full flow as many times as I could. Also to get an idea of how people usually do it, I went to youtube & watched various talks given by developers I had heard of.

Practicing the talk

Once I had the talk ready, I practiced them & that is when I realized, I need to restructure the slides. Since I had a combination of theory & code, I had to make sure there was proper spacing between the two, so that the content was easy to consume. I reordered and practiced again. I realized the speed at which I was talking was too fast & need to slow down.

I showed Hari a demo of my talk two days before the event, and he offered me revisions as feedback. This was quite helpful. The most significant piece of advice I received was to interact with the audience & make the talk more engaging.

I began to consider ways to include audience participation in the presentation. The options for participation were restricted because it was an online conference and nobody's video would be turned on. As a result, I incorporated surveys in the form of QR codes and invited the audience to participate in the coding.

Once I had the final slides, I did a final demo talk with Ishan & again with Hari. Giving demo's helped in boosting my confidence.

On the day of the talk, I played around with the commands & the code two or three times to make sure that everything was running as expected.

Going Live

All the nervousness vanished as soon as I began to speak because I became absorbed. During the talk, I wasn't able to see whether people were answering my questions or the poll but when I completed the talk & checked, I was happy to see that the audience engaged with me & answered the polls. Some people even reached out on LinkedIn with positive comments.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience & I am glad I went live instead of pre-recording.

PS: You can find my talk here :)

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