Giving your first technical talk
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome to rock the stage
Last week, I alongside my RGSoC teammate, Ipshita Chatterjee were invited to speak at Codemotion Berlin about our project during the summer, coala which is a static code analysis tool and about the program itself. While it wasn’t the first technical conference we were attending, it was the first time we were going to be giving a technical talk and hence, we were quite nervous. We also had a very strong imposter syndrome as many speakers came from stalwarts such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce and we were just college students. Needless to say, our worries were totally unfounded and we ended up having a blast at the conference! Here is what we learned :)
Know your audience
As our first step towards preparing for the talk, we researched about our target audience and the conference itself. Codemotion guidelines stated that the attendees usually came from strong technical backgrounds and most of them were already pursuing careers in technology so talks were expected to be of intermediate/advanced level than beginner. This gave us an indicator that we could comfortably use technical terms in our talk and would not necessarily have to simplify the content.
Tell your story
One of the earliest advice that we had received from the people who had given technical talks was to structure it in the most engaging way possible. We began by talking about how we had a very strong impostor syndrome before RGSoC and how we felt empowered enough to talk about it now, we talked about our process of choosing our project and interspersed the dialogue with anecdotes of why it is was awesome. Most importantly, we told our ‘RGSoC and coala’ story.
Practice, practice, practice (and engage)
One of the best things we learnt while preparing for this was that we were supposed to give a ‘talk’ not a speech. We were supposed to keep the material engaging, ask questions rather than just provide answers. And it helped us immensely. We didn’t rehearse the talk much, except being thorough with what came next and that helped us in having a really really successful first talk!
Berlin and Codemotion
It was our first time travelling to Europe, so we had a lot of fun in the city. We met up with other teams from the current and past editions (we also met a few people who applied and didn’t get in — so we encouraged them to apply again). Codemotion, in itself, was a very satisfying and enriching experience. Some of the talks, especially the keynotes, were very relevant to us as minorities in tech, and as new graduates looking to join the industry. We met with a lot of interesting people, networked, spoke to recruiters and in general, had a blast!
Codemotion and the entire experience of speaking at our first technical conference is something we will never forget! A huge huge shout out to the RGSoC organising team for giving us this opportunity!