I'm writing a blog post series about preparing technical talks; the introduction is available here.
Today, I'll be covering the first part of my process: finding an idea.
Here's a great primer on why you have ideas worth listening to:
Let's move into the tough question: what ideas lead to great talks? My strongest talks come from ideas that share the following traits:
- I'm passionate about the idea
- I know the subject well (and can master it in the allotted time)
- I've practiced the subject professionally in the recent past
I love Vim; learning this 25-year-old text editor changed my career. I went all-in on Vim three years ago and have translated my passion into organizing the Vim Chicago Meetup. And, I also love React.js. React is my tool of choice for building exceptional user experiences.
Like any language or framework, creating React.js code in Vim has layers ranging from barely-getting-it-done to flow state.
It takes work to build your Vim into the perfect React.js development environment. Writing React.js code professionally means that I relentlessly seek that perfection. What mappings, plugins, and workflow hacks can I use to get there? It's a deep subject that I care about. This is the most important trait of a good talk.
An idea that's covered in Speaking.io is that
aspirational talks, i.e.–
I want to know about this subject, so I'll sign up
for a talk and learn it by the deadline– can backfire. I've heard this idea
humorously referred to as Talk Driven Development, and if it works for you,
I have to start with a solid base of understanding in order to produce something interesting. I need to already be at least at the same level of the average listener; only then do I have a chance at pushing them beyond that level into unfamiliar ground.
For passion to translate to an interesting talk, I need to have done the work recently. You can tell when somebody is speaking about an idea that's fresh in their mind.
Another benefit of talking about recent completed work is that I've usually had time to recognize the things I could have done better. With perspective, I can integrate these lessons and edge cases into the talk.
My best talks share these traits. Talks are entertainment, and with the right passion, familiarity, and freshness, I hope to produce something worth listening to.
The next post in this series covers an important subject, brainstorming.← How I Talk :: How I Talk: Brainstorming →