On Speaking at js.chi()

3 minute read Published

Reflecting on my first public speaking engagement.
This post originally appeared on the Trunk Club Tech Blog. Some links have been updated to point to their new canonical resource locations.

Getting a speaking engagement

I’ve been attending talks presented by the js.chi() meetup group for several years now. I’ve always respected those that presented, regardless of how well assembled their presentations were. And after having personally benefitted from a number of talks (not to mention free food and beer!) I felt it was time to give back.

After learning many of the ins and outs of CoffeeScript, Backbone, Brunch and Chaplin I felt I had something unique to offer a crowd of listeners. And so I reached out to Justin Love and threw my name in for a possible speaking engagement. And after some time, Justin reached out and asked if I was still up for giving a talk. The answer was yes, and so a talk was scheduled.

Prep work leading up to the talk

One thing I look for in talks I listen to are takeaways. And so leading up to the talk I spend a good deal of time putting together examples to help showcase some of the technologies and tools I’d be discussing which people could take home and study and play around with themselves. The goal was not to leave the audience with not just a sleek-looking slide deck but also examples tied together with a full-blown example application. So during the days and weeks leading up to the talk (which I hope to give again at other venues), I added a number of upgrades and new features to the app, which also helped solidify my understanding of what I’d be speaking about.

Delivering to the crowd

While I’ve spoken to crows before, by no means am I a seasoned speaker. There were some butterflies. But rather than letting anxiety work against me, I turned it into positive energy and used it to do the best job I could. And in the minutes leading up to the talk I simply focused on how the information I delivered could change the way the audience worked, ideally to improve developer productivity and happiness. (Note: The beer I had just prior to the speech didn’t hurt either.)

The after effects

Before giving the talk, I’d expected that, after it was over, I’d be content and move on. But what really happened surprised me. After the talk was over I simply wished I could do it for a larger crowd. Instead of 100 people, why not shoot for 250 or more? Perhaps even a conference at some point. And so my hope is to continue delivering talks in the future to front-end developers and hobbyists alike who love the craft and are eager to learn. And if you’re thinking about speaking but are not comfortable with the idea but think you might like it, just try it and find out. It’s good to push yourself to the edge and beyond. You never know, someday it could be you behind the podium giving the keynote.