A year of public speaking

So, I had a little bit of a year...

Posted by Katie McLaughlin on November 4, 2015

So, I had a little bit of a year

Talk 1, October 2014: “Before All Else Be Graphed”, Open Source Developers’ Conference.

~ time passes ~

Talk 28, October 2015: “Serialisation Formats are Not Toys (Cover version)”, Open Source Developers’ Conference.

12 months, 28 talks, including 12 full presentations and 4 workshops, over 19 events in 8 cities across 2 countries.

… And it was amazing!

In the last year, I have learnt so much, met so many people, and upskilled in so many areas; not just public speaking. I’ve met so many absolutely fantastic people, worked on some amazing projects, and forged some amazing friendships.

It wasn’t a year without incident, however. But, I’m stubborn, and I blatantly refuse to let the handful of issues marr a brilliant year.

Talk Content

The first talk I wrote was about a little hobby project I was working on. This was presented along with an open source project for work. I gave these twice.. and then I was made redundant. But that just meant I had reason to gave a talk about ‘Life after Death’ in OSS :D

And then, oh gosh, and then Leslie Hawthorn and Jack Skinner happened. Jack asked me to do a talk for the PHP Australia warmup. This would make Talk #8. I thought I could do a 5-minute description of a concept that Leslie had just just blogged about.

Since then, I’ve given the lightning talk version of Hat Rack six times, and a full version four times, including once as a keynote.

Throw in an increasingly popular OWASP workshop, and a bit of yelling at JavaScript, and that’s most of them covered. Add a panel and a few other random lightning talks, and that’s my year.

Noteable Milestones

  • First talk (OSDC)
  • First talk in a dress (DevOpsDays)
  • First panel (DevOpsDays)
  • First invited talk (PhunConf)
  • First keynote (JoomlaDay)
  • First international talk (LCA)
  • First talk wearing Paul Fenwick’s hat (/dev/world)
  • First repeated speaking engagement at a conference (OSDC)

Full Talk List

  • Open Source Developers Conference, Gold Coast, October 2014 - Disentangle a new fangled image mangler
  • Open Source Developers Conference, Gold Coast, October 2014 - Before All Else, Be Graphed
  • DevOps Sydney, November 2014 - Integrating Machiavelli and Nagios (Short Talk)
  • Women Who Code, Sydney, December 2014 - Hack and Tell: Machiavelli (Short Talk)
  • Linux Conference Australia, Auckland, January 2015 - Before All Else, Be Graphed
  • Linux Conference Australia, Auckland, January 2015 - Disentangle a new fangled image mangler
  • PhunConf 5 Workshop, Sydney, February 2015 - Workshop: In ur s3rvs h4k1ng ur c0dez, a Security Tutorial
  • PHP Australia Warm Up, March 2015 - Hat Rack (Short Talk)
  • DevOps Sydney, March 2015 - Hat Rack (Short Talk)
  • Ruby on Rails Oceania, Sydney, April 2015 - Disentangle a new fangled image mangler
  • Port80 Sydney, June, 2015 - Workshop: Introduction to hacking OWASP
  • DevOps Sydney, June, 2015 - JavaScript Rant (Short Talk)
  • DevOpsDays Melbourne, July 2015 - Panel: The platform or the road map?
  • DevOpsDays Melbourne, July 2015 - Ignite Karaoke (Short)
  • Python Sydney (SyPy), July 2015 - Hat Rack (Lightning Talk)
  • PyCon AU, Brisbane, August 2015 - Build a Better Hat Rack: All Contributions Welcome
  • SydPHP, Sydney, August 2015 - Life After Death: How to handle abandoned projects
  • /dev/world, Melbourne, August 2015 - Build a Better Hat Rack: All Contributions Welcome
  • /dev/world, Melbourne, August 2015 - Hat Rack (Lightning Talk)
  • PHP New Zealand Warmup, Wellington, September 2015 - Hat Rack (Lightning Talk)
  • Kiwi PyCon, Christchurch, September 2015 - Build a Better Hat Rack: All Contributions Welcome
  • Kiwi PyCon, Christchurch, September 2015 - Yelling at JavaScript and its attempt at local variables (Lightning Talk)
  • JoomlaDay, Brisbane, October 2015 - Workshop: Hack Yourself First
  • JoomlaDay, Brisbane, October 2015 - Keynote: Build a Better Hat Rack: All Contributions Welcome
  • Open Source Developers Conference, Hobart, October 2015 - JavaScript is Awe-ful
  • Open Source Developers Conference, Hobart, October 2015 - Hat Rack (Lightning Talk)
  • Open Source Developers Conference, Hobart, October 2015 - Workshop: Hack the Planet: A practical guide to web application vulnerabilities
  • Open Source Developers Conference, Hobart, October 2015 - Serialization Formats are Not Toys (Cover Version) (Lightning Talk)

Slides, Video links, etc on glasnt.com/talks

Random Thoughts

Warning: Feels

… The conference circuit is hard. Especially so when you aren’t getting paid for it, and don’t have the support of your work to cover expenses, or even leave. As a hobby, it’s expensive. As a career path, you need to be a special kind of person to be a Community Manager or Developer Evangalist. Personally, I’m more than content to do what I can: present on topics I’m passionate in, sporadically, and be able to relish the oppurtunites to catch up with friends and learn new things.

After a while, the lure of the Hallway Track becomes a siren of escape: being able to duck away from the schedule and interact with people is amazing, but this is still something that makes me feel guilty. It’s not as bad when the talks are recorded, because they can always be reviewed later. The ability to just go and chat with someone that’s not in a loud dinner environment is pick their brain is extremely refreshing, but not at the cost of neglecting the main point of the conference. On the flipside of this: when a conference is multiple-tracked, you’re always going to miss something. But in single-track, it’s harder.

Multiple day conferences are a being unto themselves. I find that there comes a point where you need to just sit in a single track and let the talks wash over you, because you just can’t give any more.

Also keynotes. Oh gosh, keynotes. Some have been amazing. Some have been awful. And more than one I’ve not attended on purpose. The cliche that people don’t rock-up for keynote the day after the conference dinner isn’t the reason for my lack of attendance. In some cases, it was a personal choice based on the speaker, or some other reason.

I have also tried my darnest never to miss a talk because I’m preparing my own. I may glance over my content, but I never have, nor want to, put myself in a position where I’m changing, or heaven forbid writing, content at the last minute.

I haven’t been to an event where I haven’t learnt something. And I’ve been to even more than I’ve listed here. Yes, I’ve been to conferences where I haven’t spoken. For example, the PHP conferences, I was involved in the community-hosted warmup events, but not the conference proper. But for anything I attend, I am there because I want to learn. I’m there for the people and the knowledge, not the beer and the pizza.

As cliche as it is, I’ve learnt so much over the year, and upskilled in so many areas. I’ve gained some lifelong friends, and I’m now an member of so many communities (including PHP, because I was on FacesOfTheElePHPant!).

The Future

I’m not going to be speaking for a while. I am involved in organising a few different things behind the scenes, but apart from one or two major “Oh gosh, it would be awesome to speak here” Call for Papers submissions, I’m taking a bit of a break. It’s been a long year, and I’m more than happy to be able to dedicate more time to the other parts of my life. I will still be around, both online, at meetups, and in version control systems; but this is a year that’s run at a pace that is unsustainable, unless I want to burn out.

An you know what, even with all of the feels, good and bad, it was absolutely fantastic.