The Key Takeaways From A Solo Talk At RubyConf TH

Content posted here with the permission of the author Shweta kale, who is currently employed at Josh Software. Original post available here

I spoke at International RubyConf alone for the first time and it is one of the best experience I ever had at a conference.

It all started few years back when I joined Josh. We had to deliver internal talk and I realised my biggest fear is Public Speaking. I decided to overcome this fear therefore I delivered two talks at RubyConf, first was lightening talk and second talk with a colleague. Now I wanted to move ahead and give solo talk!

I submitted CFP at few of the conferences but it didn’t get selected. I thought it’s not my cup of tea but every time I attend conference the question I used to get from my dad was when are you going to speak at conference? At Josh Software we had a great session on Goal Setting early this year and we all were asked to publish our Goals on internal channel. One of my Goal was to speak at conference and take my parents along with me. Publishing your Goals in your team really helps. Once you publish the Goal you work towards achieving them! I have already achieved 50% of the goals which are supposed to be completed in next 5 years.

In this blog post I will highlight few of the learnings from my first solo talk!

Practise your talk in front of mirror

When you practise your talk in front of mirror you realise what needs to be improved! So always practise your talk in front of mirror.

Record your talk while practising

Recording helps you to analyse your talk on your own! I had recorded my talks 10 times and when I listen first recording and last recoding it had improved a LOT.

Time your talk

Time your talk so you can add/remove few points if required.

Have presenter notes ready

All the tools has facility of presenter notes and when you present your talk you can see those notes on your screen.Those notes are there to give you confidence. I was always worried what if I get blank on the stage? But after adding notes I was bit relaxed as I had feeling that there will be some one who will remind me if I get blank. Though I didn’t use these notes at conference but surely it boosted my confidence!

Check license of the image before you use it

We always tend to add images in our slides because it makes easy to keep audience in sync. But few images are not allowed to be used so always check licence of the image before you use it. Your talk gets recorded so never forget this.

Talk slowly

Talk you are going to deliver is new for most of the people in audience. Audience take some time to figure out what you are talking so talk slowly and repeat your important points twice.

Never read the slides

If you read the slides you loose attention of the audience so never read your slides. Your slides should have highlighted points only. If your slides has more content, audience will start reading it which will distract them.

Look at the audience when you talk

This helps keeping audience engaged in your talk rather than phone 

Make friends before conference start so you have few known faces in the audience

At the time of RubyConf TH There was a cruise dinner arranged at chao phraya river. It was a excellent idea as all speakers got chance to interact with. I knew few of them from DeccanRuby Conf and RubyConf India but many of them were new faces to me but throughout the cruise I didn’t feel like I am new here. Thanks to awesome ruby community. Made some #rubyfriends during this party 

Because of this I had few known faces in the audience which helped me for my own moral support.

Have some punch in first 3 minutes of your talk.

It helps you to get comfortable on stage. In my talk I didn’t have many punches. But when I started the demo of my talk there was laughter and claps from audience at one place. Which gave me some time to cool down and made me comfortable on stage.

Give demo of your talk in front of group of people you are comfortable with, for example meetup

I had given demo of my talk to Josh team. I got really good feedback/ tips from the team also got confidence.

Have backup plan if your laptop crashes

I was all set for my talk and just before I travel my laptop crashed And Apple store said it will take 3-5 days to diagnose the issue. So I had to recreate my presentation. I managed to do it in time. So always keep back up plan ready! Mail slides and PDF to your self and keep it in pen drive.

If you have fear of public speaking start with lightening talk

Many of the conferences has concept of lightening talks. This is a great stage to start with. You get chance to speak in front of many people. Also these talks get recorded. So you can see video later and Enjoy your talk. Also you get chance to learn from mistakes you have made! I had delivered my first lightening talk at DeccanRuby Conf. Timing for these talks are from 3 to 5 minutes.

Don’t give up if talk is not selected

Yes it happens. My 7-8 CFP’s got rejected (different topics) before this selection. But in every conference there are 100’s of CFPs and selection committee has to choose around 10% of the CFPs. There are chances that similar talk was delivered in earlier edition of the conference or there are few better topics than your. So never get disappointed if talk is not selected. Keep trying another conference might be waiting for you!

Submit same talk at multiple conferences

If your talk does not get selected at one conference, it might get selected in other one. I met one person at DeccanRuby Conf whose CFP was not selected at RubyConf TH but got selected in some other conference where mine was not selected. So it totally depends on what kind of topics conference demands.

My first solo talk went well. A lot of people came up to me to say that they liked the talk. It was all very overwhelming. Here are photos with all the attendees.

It was an amazing conference. This was first edition of RubyConf TH – Awesome venue, amazing people, cruise party. Kudos to organisers and volunteers for pulling this off.

You can find slides of the talk here.

Big thanks to Josh team for valuable feedback and conference budget 


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