My First Talk

I’m writing this going back to Rio in a 12 hour trip throught São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro states by bus (yes, I could get a plane but maybe next time). I’m comming back from Bauru (distant ~100km from São Paulo) after giving my first talk in an event. I was scared but now I’m glad that I present my first talk. Let me explain why.

The Event: FrontInterior 2014

The FrontInterior is an event organized by two friends (Richard Johansen and Talita Pagani) in the Bauru city to bring high quality front end content (JavaScript, CSS, etc) to regions far from the capital. The first edition was in 2012, also in Bauru. This year, near 150 people showed up from various nearby cities to watch and learn from very smart people like Loiane Groner, Davidson Fellipe and Almir Filho.

Because one of the speakers cancelled his participation less than a week from the event, Richard asked me to give a talk. At that time, I didn’t want to accept because I always thought that I wasn’t good enought to talk about anything. When I finally accepted, I didn’t know how this was so far from true.

The talk: what could I say to front ends?

I am a full stack engineer, so what could I say to a lot of very good front end engineers? To my relief, Richard also suggested the subject: git.

So now that I have the subject, it’s time to get my hands dirty. I have less than a week to work on something (and I have a full time job at WeDemand plus other personal projects). How this could go wrong? ;)

I arrived in Bauru at Friday morning and started to prepare my talk. My first approach was to write about the basics of git. Soon I realised that this was a dumb thing to do - probably a lot of people already uses git for day to day work. So I started to change the talk to be more useful: talk about some more advanced stuff (merge vs. rebase) and some tips and tricks from my personal experience, like importance of commit messages, choosing a workflow with your team, etc. The talk is in Portuguese and is named Git com o pé direito (in a literal translation, “Git with the right foot”).

Iiiits time!

Saturday afternoon - time to go there on the frontstage and do what I had to do. One little detail that I didn’t mentioned before: the event organizers put me to be the last to talk - just after some very good talks about Grunt and WebComponents.

As this was my first talk, I was really nervous. My hands were visibly shaking; the room was full of front end engineers - from juniors to seniors - wating to see what I have to say. After a brief introduction, I finally started my presentation.

I presented it faster than I thought - around 30 minutes. The good part was the questions. I was expecting that somebody would ask something that didn’t understand from my presentation because I talked fast or because I didn’t explain very well some concept. But what I saw was a really interested audience in how I solved some problems and my opinions on some subjects.

The lessons learned

It was better than I expected for my first talk. I already notice some points to improve (I said the things too fast, I could reduce the number of slides with terminal screenshots, etc) and probably some more will came through the feedback system of the event.

Beside the things I need to improve in the talk itself, I learned a lot. Not about git, but about how to pass my knowledge to other people, in a way that is understandable for who don’t know me. It was also my first conference on “the other side”, with the speakers. I could see that they are normal people - sometimes with almost the same knowledge you and me have. The only difference is they are telling to other people what they know. And doing this at every conference they can - and because of that they’re getting even better at this.

I learned that it’s not difficult at all to give a talk. For me, I just needed somebody to push me to do. Even if you don’t know too much about a topic (I’m not a git expert), prepare a talk and try to present it to somebody. In my case, the best part was when I talked about my personal experience with git and how I solved some common problems that every developer could have. Even if you think that you don’t have much experience on the subject, do the presentation! Submit it to regional events - normally they’re composed by people from your community (sometimes you even known some of them personally) and it’s much easier to have help, specially if it is your first talk.

Special thanks

Special thanks to Richard Johansen for inviting me and to Talita Pagani to accept the talk. I own you both a beer (or a juice) :)