My First Conference Talk

My journey as a conference speaker so far

Achievement Unlocked by lsilva is licensed under Creative Commons CC0

This year I had a goal. Speak at a conference (or at least a MeetUp). Like a full ~40min length talk. It’s April, and I met my goal by speaking at DroidCon Boston, and Chicago Roboto.

Collective Idea - 2017 Goals - Conference Speaking.jpg

Previously, I wrote about how I got started with this idea of speaking at conferences, sharing how I prepped for a lightning talk at RubyConf in 2016. After that short, few minute talk, I claimed I was never doing it again. It wasn’t long until I started looking at other topics I could speak on.

Picking a topic

I found it really hard to think of a topic, but I eventually got there. It helped to look at what types of things I enjoyed working on recently. I put together a couple of rough abstracts, and shared them with a couple people. The reviewers all independently said one of my topics sounded more interesting, and that I seemed more excited about it (I was). That began my journey putting together my talk about decompiling Kotlin, which I ended up titling Kotlin: Uncovered.

CFP Time

I picked a couple of smaller, younger conferences to submit my talk to. The application was pretty straightforward, and I had someone else proofread my abstract before I sent it in. I must have done an okay job, because Chiu-Ku Chan used it as an example at Droidcon Boston!

Then the waiting. When I got the first acceptance email from the organizers of Droidcon Boston, I was so excited and terrified that this was actually becoming reality. That was only amplified when I received an acceptance email followed by a request for me to give a keynote at Chicago Roboto! As intimidating as it was, it was not the time to back out.

Prep & Practice

I spent so much time putting together the content of my talk, more than I anticipated. I went through the panics of not having enough material, and then feeling like I had too much material. Then I was hating my slides because of the amount of code on them, and I kept formatting them until it was acceptably readable. I probably spent too much time worrying about what I was going to wear, too.

I was constantly refining my slides, but once they were about complete I made sure to spend plenty of time practicing. I set up a time over lunch where fellow team members could watch my talk. In addition to giving them a sneak peek, it allowed me to practice in front of a group of people, and receive feedback. My teammates were extremely supportive the whole way.

Today’s the Day

Before long, it was time to present. I had prepared a checklist of things to do ahead of time, and checked it twice. It was time to go on. And I’m happy with how it went! If you want to watch my presentation which was on Kotlin at DroidConBos, you can view it on Realm.

Victoria at a conference
Photo courtesy Vladimir Baryshnikov

I felt much more prepared than my first lightning talk, and I’m excited to keep it up. Follow me on Twitter to learn where I’ll be talking at next!

Photo of Victoria Gonda

Victoria is a software developer working on mobile and full stack web applications. She enjoys exchanging knowledge through conference talks and writing.


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