How to Get Your Tech Talk on Stage From 0–8 Times in One Year

April 2018. Our Speakers Program was born.

Since then, we’ve already held a series of 10 workshops and trainings. 53 devs went on stage while 17 of them spoke in 11 different countries.

We code. We speak. We share.

And we’re still counting.

Starting from 0 and giving his 8th and most recent talk at ReactiveConf 2018, let’s hear it from Luis Roman – one of our frontend devs, who came to Prague from Colombia and jumped into the cold water 8 times so far – in just 1 year.

guy speaking in front of audience

Need real tips on taking your own talk on stage?

Some of Luis’ screenshot-worthy advice from his own experiences to make your talk a little easier –

  • You can’t make everyone happy
  • The audience will always vary in expertise
  • If someone is scheduled to speak after you, be conscious of your time
  • Most times you’ll get feedback from the audience after talking at meetups
  • Don’t be afraid to pause while speaking, it gives people time to process
  • Use Keynote for your presentation, hands down
  • Animations should make your talk more understandable, not more distracting
  • Be prepared to update your presentation at the last minute
  • Apply to as many talks as you can and sell it with a dynamic description
  • Have your first presentation at a smaller meetup instead of at a big conference

Luis followed up by expanding on a few other questions too –

What’s something others may not realize or expect when it comes to tech presentations?

That you need to be prepared to update your presentation even at the last minute.

I once registered to give a talk about HOCS. My presentation was set. Everything was good to go. But then as I was browsing online, I saw that an update was released to make HOCS simpler – HOOKS. It was a game changer, making my presentation obsolete. To make matters worse, my talk was just in a few days. Boom. I had to adapt and update my angle and slides. From this, I learned that you’ve got to know everything about your topic and to stay updated. The more time you have before your talk, the more triple checks you’ll need to do.

With STRV’s speakers program in place, what are your biggest key takeaways?

That it’s not so easy to get yourself on stage in the first place. A lot of guys are applying and you’ve got to maximize your chances. It starts by writing a dynamic description about the talk you plan to give. Pull in current issues and explain how you plan to solve them. Write it in a way that’s interesting as hell, making it an obvious choice to be up on that stage.

A more in-depth breakdown on that here.

At another workshop, I learned to not be afraid to pause while speaking – so that people have the chance to digest and process what I am saying. For me, this was mind blowing.

Especially when it comes to talking about technologies, it’s easy to get lost. In general, we’re always afraid of pausing, but when everyone’s on the same page, it can actually strengthen the talk.

What would you say to someone who wants to give their first tech talk?

Giving your first talk at a meetup is less intimidating than going all-in and speaking at a big conference or event. People are more relaxed and expectations are usually not as high. So if you’re wanting to take your talk on the big stage, start small first. And that it’s true what they say – the fear gets more manageable the more you do it.

How do you usually structure your talks?

I first pick a topic I like and know well. Then I come up with the headline/title. Then comes 3-4 main points with 2-3 sub points for each. I then organize the slides, track my time, and add in some animations.

I used to use Google Slides until I met Keynote – and it’s a game changer. Can’t recommend it enough. It allows you to play with a bunch of top-notch animations (plus code animations) that help your presentation flow much easier. But remember not to put in too many or it’ll just be a distraction. Just insert animations that help make your presentation more understandable.

Like this:


Interested in keeping up with Luis and collecting more tips? Follow him on Twitter here.

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Alysa Yamada

Alysa Yamada

Alysa is a technical copywriter and American expat based in Prague. A sucker for coffee, comedy shows and spending way too much time on Quora.

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