Resources for First Time Speakers

Unfortunately, getting the courage to submit is probably the easiest step.

Speaking at a conferences or even a meetup for the first time can be both intimidating and difficult to achieve. Even if you have the courage to submit a talk to a conference, getting accepted can be tough and the first experience can be nerve-wracking.

My first experience as a public speaker came at the cf.Objective conference in Minneapolis. I was speaking about a Flex framework called Cairngorm. Cairngorm was notoriously difficult - so, perhaps not the best topic for a first time speaker. Anyway, my timing was off - I spoke way too fast - and I screwed up here and there - which wasn’t helped by the fact that I was intimidated by some people in the audience who knew their shit about Cairngorm. Plus, I made the rookie mistake of staying out drinking too much the night before my session. Suffice it to say, I am certain it was pretty bad.

I did keep trying though. Not because I loved speaking, but because my jobs didn’t pay for conferences, so this was a way to cut down the personal expense of attending (at least I’d get the entrance and maybe a hotel room paid for). It took years and many, many sessions for me to feel comfortable speaking.

One of my personal projects that I am working on involves offering some assistance to first time speakers in tech. I’m not ready to talk much about it yet, but, in the course of researching it, I’ve come across a handful of resources that I wanted to share. I know there are plenty of others (and I’d really love to hear about them), these just happen to be some I’ve personally come across.

Resources

Jen Myers, a well known technology speaker and author, offers virtual mentoring for anyone from an underrepresented group.

Brenna O’Brien, another frequent speaker on JavaScript and development, offers paid speaking coaching.

We Are All Awesome is a site that offers links and other resources for first time speakers at tech conferences (not new, but still relevant).

Technically Speaking by Chiu-ki and Cate is a great weekly newsletter that not only provides links to open CFPs, but also offers tips and shares articles with advice for first-time speakers.

While not necessarily targeting new speakers, We Speak Too is an interesting initiative to help promote individuals from underrepresented groups who speak. Currently, it has listings for DC and Austin.