Recent Talks: November 2015

November was a busy month for me! I gave my first-ever conference talks at DevOpsDays Silicon Valley and DevOpsDays Detroit.

I'm frightened by public speaking, but have been making an effort in the past year to go toward the things that scare me, so it was a fun challenge.

My first talk was a five-minute Ignite about parallels between agile development and effective classroom teaching.


My second was a set of thoughts I've been working on for probably six months now— some concepts about empathy that I've found personally and professionally powerful.

No video for this one, but slides are here:

Lessons I learned preparing:

  • Zach Holman's site "We are All Awesome" is a great starting place for understanding basic structure and formatting of slides. Scratch that, the starting place.
  • Ratholing on slide layout and polish before the content and sequence is there is wasted work. Use placeholder pictures if you need to, but save the obsession for later.
  • Present to peers and friends ahead of time, but let them know where you're at and what you need. I like to differentiate between 30% feedback ("I'm workshopping ideas and want directional feedback") and 90% feedback ("Shipping this tomorrow, help me polish it").
  • Watch YouTube talk videos and count "ums", pauses, and screw-ups. This helped me get over my fear that any bumps in my delivery (there were plenty) would be immortalized forever on the Internet.

And finally, if you've ever considered giving a talk, just go do it! Many conferences (particularly DevOpsDays) love new speakers, and it's a lot of fun to feel like you're contributing to the conversation within a community.