Hello everyone 👋🏻. The "First" in everything we do has its own importance, isn't it? Throughout my career, I have mentored a lot of people and I have seen this hesitation in a lot of them too to get started with public speaking. I believe it's very natural and all of us faced this at some stage. So why exactly am I writing this blog? Well, I am one of you who always had hesitation, stage fear, and self-doubt about getting started with public speaking! How does one exactly start to give talks? Should I actually give a talk? Should I submit CFP? What if it doesn't get selected? And a lot more of these kinda questions crossed my mind and I always resisted to start speaking. I have given a few talks till now but The First Four Talks I gave have been very special for me and each with different learning. In this blog, I will share my experience of my First talk and I am sure a lot of you will be able to relate to it as well 😊
I wanted to start giving talks but I was too worried and self-doubting about how and where to start. This is very natural and must be happening to most of us. I was working at HackerRank and as part of the quarterly review, this was one of the feedback I had gotten multiple times as well that I should start giving talks!
In 2019 I finally decided to put it as one of my goals on my personal road map. Till now I had no idea what topic, or where to give but yeah I wanted to start to finally be able to break this ice.
Deciding the topic
There were a couple of topics like Testing, Code review, React related topics in my mind but I wasn't sure which to pick as I was totally confused.
I had been reading "You don't know JS" By Kyle Sympson and I just ❤️ the book.
So I thought let me try giving a talk about Scope as I was very inspired with the way Kyle approaches a topic and conveys it to the audience.
Where should I give the talk?
The option to give a talk at the office was always there. We used to have Tech talks every Friday but here is one theory that I believe in since I was so anxious about giving the talk and also worried about what will happen if something goes wrong. I was worried about how will I face my colleagues so I decided to give my first talk outside where less / no one will know me and it might be easier for me to give the talk then as I would have less pressure.
Submitting the CFP
Since I decided to give my talk outside the office, I started to look for places that I could explore. Bangalore is a very active place with meetups and you will pretty much find meetups for all categories. So I came across ReactJS Bangalore Meetup and decided to submit my CFP in this one. It took me a lot of courage to submit my first CFP and finally submitted the topic for September 2019 meetup. It's weird that though I was aware I am not going to lose anything if the CFP gets rejected but still I don't know why I had this fear of rejection 😞. Well Within an hour I get a reply from Kiran (the organizer of the meetup)
And reading this I was shocked, happy, excited..... all mixed emotions! But of course, I wasn't ready to give it in just a few days. So I had to come up with an excuse that I might not be available on the coming Saturday and hence submitted it for the next month's meetup.
Sorry Kiran if you are reading this, I am sure you will understand 😃.
And now I was the first speaker for the September meetup. So this was First Talk + First speaker!
Preparing the talk
I started looking into how to prepare talk slides, the format, and template everything during the weekends. I had almost a month so I thought I have a lot of time so I went on a slow pace until I had just one week to go.
Probably that's how most of us "Devs" function 😂 ? So finally I had the draft ready (well I thought it was ready :p)
Reviewing the slides
Since this was my first talk I wanted to get it reviewed and fortunately I had mentors at HackerRank whom I could always reach out to for any assistance. So I started getting it reviewed from Sudhanshu, Akshay, and Hari.
A couple of important points I received as feedback
- When talking about a broad topic - better to have an Agenda so the audience knows what I am going to cover
- Slide for Takeaways from the talk towards the end
- Font size big enough to be visible
- Not too much content on a slide and better to have bullet points
- Don't write on the slide what you are going to speak to avoid repetition
- Avoid grammatical errors
So I started working on the feedback and the slides were mostly ready by now. I had 2 days to go before my talk.
One day to go
It was Friday late evening and my talk was the next day but I hadn't practiced in front of anyone so I tried practicing in front of a few of my colleagues at HackerRank so I could gain some confidence.
A few important things I got to know when practicing was
- I was speaking at a fast pace so take a pause in between
- Ask the audience if they have any questions
One good thing I liked about my talk is I tried to make it interactive by asking questions so that I can engage people. Practicing with my colleagues really helped me in gaining confidence. I know I should have rehearsed a few days earlier but I am glad that I managed to practice before giving the talk.
The night before the talk was just crazy, I was still making changes in my slides, tweaking design, and whatnot! This I think is normal when it comes to giving talks 😂. I still don't remember If I slept that night, it was too much anxiety 😨
The talk day
I got ready and left for the venue. It was 21st September 2019 and my talk was the first one at 2 pm IST. I left with my partner and reached the venue and we waited for some time for people to join in. Harshith, one of my close friends, and Hari also came to attend my talk and this boosted my confidence to a great extent. And then yes the moment came and I started my talk. As I started speaking for the first couple of seconds I was very conscious but then I just went with the flow and it actually went well 😍 The audience was very interactive, after my talk as well I got a couple of questions and during break time as well I interacted with a lot of folks, got a lot of valuable feedback, and had a great great time.
The AHA moment 😍
I was so so relieved, it was no less than winning a war 😂. I had decided that if my talk went well, I will party so in the evening I was ordering some dessert to celebrate and suddenly I get a notification 🔔
This made my entire day and I was so so exhilarated that I can't put that into words! Kiran is such an incredible person and this coming from him was really a huge thing and motivated me so much.
Thank you 🙏
I am fortunate to have a few people in my life who always support me and push me to go beyond my limits. Throughout my career, there is one person Hari who has always pushed me to do better. My family has always been very supportive and always been there whenever I needed it.
You can find the list of my talks here and more coming soon 😊.
So yes this was my first talk experience, and as I said "First" talk is always special. Would like to know your experience so share them below If you haven't yet written then write it, it's never late 🙂.
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