What have I learned from speaking at 4Developers 2020 conference?

At this year’s edition of the 4Developers conference I gave a talk titled “Productivity for Ordinary Developers”. It wasn’t the first time I was speaking at an event, however, it was rich in new experiences for me anyway. Here are some insights I hope you’ll find interesting.

Lightning talks are hard

It was the first lightning talk I created and I have to admit – they are hard. Earlier, I was thinking, that if the talk is 3 times shorter, it should be 3 times easier to prepare. The truth is, 15 minutes (or in this case even 12) leave a very little margin. I had to rehearse even harder to make sure, that I’m within the time limit.

Recording myself training my talk at home was a great help for my preparations. It allowed me to check how the final result would look like. I could watch myself talking, and I could find mistakes or annoyances, which I wasn’t even aware of.

It also put an element of pressure on me. If I wanted to record a complete try, I couldn’t make any mistakes. Because of that element of mild stress, I could measure the time of my talk more accurately. It also helped me to prepare a schedule for my talk. I played the recording once and noted minute ranges of all major sections of my talk. Thanks to that, I had a cheat sheet, which I could quickly check during the actual talk to instantly know how am I doing with my time. Was I rushing, dragging? Did I have extra time or should I hurry up a bit?

My cheat sheet 😀

However, it’s extremely important to remember to turn the timer on. Without that, as I unfortunately learned, the cheat sheet is of no use … 😛

Online conferences are … different

This year’s edition was unique because due to the COVID19 pandemic it was a completely online version.

In terms of technicalities, I think that the 4Developers crew has made a tremendous job. Everything was very well organized, we had rehearsals, where we could learn beforehand how it would look like during the conference. It felt like an appearance in a live TV show :D.

However, it’s still not the same as the usual on-site event.

I missed the live audience. Even though the stage fright was a little bit less significant, I really missed that triumph moment between saying “thank you” and the applause from the audience.

I also missed networking. A friend of mine once said that he measures how he liked the conference by a number of new connections he has made. This year, there weren’t many occasions to talk to each other.

I have also watched way fewer talks then I would usually do at an on-site conference. If you are at the venue, where the conference is organized, you usually have a free day at work and there is nothing to distract you from attending the talk and focusing on it. On the other hand, if they are in a form of a broadcast you can watch now or later – there is always something more important to do at home or at work.

Luckily, the next edition is scheduled on-site :D.

Summing up – full success!

I am extremely happy, that in terms of speaking it wasn’t a wasted year for me and I am really grateful for the opportunity to speak at a country-wide conference.

If you want to see the slides or the “further reading” links, you can find them here.

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