A year since my first international speaking appearance

A year since my first international speaking appearance

Time goes really fast! It's almost a year since I had my first talk at WeAreDevelopers World Congress 2018 at Vienna, Austria. Quite a scary experience since it was my first talk in Europe, and that too in front of some 200+ people.

I have come a long way when it comes to public appearance and speaking. I have always been and am still an introvert. Not shy, but preferring recluse when necessary. Doesn't mean I hate people, but I need solitude to charge myself. Public speaking was the last thing I would do, especially I tried to avoid it multiple times in the past with little or no success.

However, something changed in the beginning of the last year. In addition to using my blog to distribute my knowledge and experience to community, I decided to use public speaking platform to reach out to wider audience. Fortunately there were many people, communities, and tech conferences who were ready to help, support and include first time speakers like myself.

I had few topics to present at the conferences. I didn't have full slide and overview of the content, but my experience, knowledge and mentors around me warranted that creating and practicing presentation won't be a problem. All I had to do was to overcome fear or public speaking and rejection in case my proposal gets turned down.

However, I had a trick up my sleeve to counter public speaking appearance. I am very serious about my commitments and promises and it hurts me a lot when I am unable to keep them - Intentionally or unintentionally. When I started making applications for speaking engagements, I took that as a sign of making a formal commitment to speak at the conference unless the talk gets declined.

I spent good chunk of first half of January coming up with topics, making content of CFP, and reviewing it from head of tech communication at Wayfair. I was pleasantly surprised when Chris Price sent my very first acceptance to give a talk at iOSDevUK conference at Aberystwyth. It was one of the happiest moments of my life and gave the extra sense of confidence that I can do it!

Unfortunately, it's not like that all the times. You also have to receive and accept rejection decisions. Although it feels bad, when you put yourself in organizers' shoes, you start realizing that it's even tougher for them. There could be lot of reasons for rejection such as,

  1. Your submitted topic does not match with conference theme
  2. Similar submission from another speaker has already been accepted
  3. You're located at remote location and organizers are looking to invite only local speakers
  4. Organizers are looking for more famous speakers
  5. You've already given talk at this conference last time and organizers are looking for diverse set of speakers
  6. You have made a demand for something that organizers won't be able to fulfill

However, not all the rejections are cold. Some conferences let you know what went wrong and even give you hints about what can be done and improved while submitting entry for next year's submission.

Some of the conference organizers even go beyond just letting you know about rejection, and they will give you hint and collaborate with you to improve the previously submitted version and let you submit improved version. I find this way to encourage and educate prospective speakers on submitting good and convincing CFP.

I have learned so many things in last yea, travelled to 4 different countries, gave more than 6 talks, met so many wonderful people and observed how much hard organizers and volunteers work to make tech conferences a grand success. Unlike last year, I shake significantly less just before my stage appearance and put on more smile instead of making a face as if I am going in the prison.

I also began to appreciate people making public appearance. Their practice, hard-work and drive to share the knowledge. Even since I started giving talks, no matter how bad the presentation is, I never walk out in the middle of presentation. I know how much it stings when you're behind the lectern.

This is all for today.... As I mentioned earlier, I like to share my learnings and knowledge with other people. So if you're enthusiastic about giving a talk and need an advice on coming up with topic, creating a write-up for Call for Papers or presentation summary, please don't hesitate to contact me through comment section or Twitter where I am pretty much active!

Thank you so much for reading this post! Until next time....