Speaker Tips – Bootstrapping Conference Speaking

Photo of Trisha and Daniel presenting at Devoxx

I have loads of advice for aspiring speakers, which is lucky because I get asked about how to get started (or how I got started) all the time. I found an email I sent to someone absolutely years ago (2014) and thought it useful enough to dust off and post. It's interesting to see my mindset back then because now I've largely forgotten what it was like in the early days.

The timing is not great, since in these Coronavirus times no-one's going to or presenting at conferences, but I firmly believe that with all these virtual events and conferences there's a much lower barrier to entry to speaking, and that now is exactly the right time to start presenting if it's something you've ever had on your wish list.

"I was hoping I could get some advice off you as I'm starting to look at ways to get out and speak a little bit more at events. Would you have some insights from how you started?"

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Procrastination

I’ve had a fantastic week of meeting with colleagues and friends, getting to know some of my organisation, brainstorming ideas for next year, working out how to prioritise and plan, being handed greater responsibility and freedom…

Now I’m sat in Berlin airport with loads of time until my next flight and what am I doing? Creating a brand new coding product to play Sudoku, writing a new personal blog post and (of course) updating my personal blog platform software (sigh).

I should be finalising my personal and team objectives for 2020, for Q1, and for February. I should be using those to plan next month/quarter. I should be using all the notes I took this week to create sharable content for the team and maybe even a new blog post or two for work.

But I’m not. I feel the urge to code, and I want to scratch it.

Procrastination? Or using the right energy for the right task when it’s there?

2019

Right so yes. 2020, hello. One of my 2020 resolutions is to get back to my personal blog. Weekly. Yeah right. Let’s aim for weekly and be happy with monthly.

For my first post let’s do the obligatory look-back-over-last-year. Not because it’s trendy (I’m 41 now, I don’t care about being trendy any more), but because it’s super important for me to understand what I went through and what I achieved last year (every year), otherwise I get caught up in the hamster-wheel of the-next-thing-and-the-next-thing-and-the-next-thing. Progress should be celebrated, not just ignored for the next item on the ever growing, ever pressing TODO list. Also, looking back helps me to plan the next year. Doesn’t have to be super-planned, but setting some goals, objectives, ideas for which direction I’d prefer to go in helps me decide how to prioritise that ever-growing, ever-pressing TODO list.

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Me Mum

Photo of Therese and Trisha Gee

I didn’t see what an enormous impact Mum made on my life, because she was always there. There’s a quote in the book Good Omens: “It’s for the same reason you can’t see England when you’re in Trafalgar Square” - Mum was a constant, important, dependable presence for my whole life.

I wrote something for Mum while I was on the plane from Spain to spend what was to be our last two weeks together. I’d like to share some of that with you all now.

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Speaker Tips – What to Wear

For years I’ve avoided talking about the topic of what to wear when presenting. I didn’t want to cover it because I didn’t want people to think that I only worried about this topic because I was a woman. I also didn’t want other women to inherit any of my neuroses around deciding what to wear. I’m the sort of person who always enjoyed thinking long and hard about what to wear the next day at work, and I know that’s not how everyone works.

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Speaker Tips – Wearing a Roaming Mic is More Complicated Than I Realised

Photo of Trisha presenting at Devoxx

I realise I have a bunch of experience and advice for speakers and potential speakers that I simply haven’t written down or shared. Here’s the first piece on things to consider that you might not have thought about.

Note: as usual, my advice is from the point of view of a woman (me) and is aimed mostly at women, but also as usual it’s probably useful for others to know too.

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What Can Conferences Do To Attract More Women Speakers?

Trisha presenting at JavaOne

Now I've been speaking at (mostly Java) conferences for a while (six years now), I get asked to present at a lot of conferences. Obviously all these conferences are mostly interested in my terribly educational talks, but it's also because I'm a technical woman and there aren't very many technical women speaking at conferences.

In my experience, conferences want to do the right thing - they want a diverse line up of speakers, they want to attract diverse attendees. Often this is not as easy as it may seem, and frequently conferences are Twitter-shamed for not having enough women speakers. When it gets to this point (and often before), conferences frequently ask me for advice on speakers they could invite, and how to attract more women.

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