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Nadia Zhuk
Nadia Zhuk

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I gave my first tech talk: here is how it went.

Last week I had the pleasure of talking about the SOLID principles as part of Women Who Code Object Oriented Programming track.

It was fun. It was also extremely challenging.

First, before that I had only ever given internal technical presentations within my company. Giving an external facing technical talk was definitely nerve-wrecking. This SOLID stuff is fairly complex, and the anxiety was real. Public speaking is scary for most of us, though I’m definitely getting better at managing the anxiety around it.

Second, as a self-taught engineer, I constantly grapple with self-doubt and impostor syndrome. What if there is an error in my code sample? What if I butcher an explanation and someone misunderstands a principle? What if I receive a question I don’t know the answer to? These worries are always there, though I try to ignore them and just do my absolute best to prepare. If I do everything I can to deliver the best content possible, then I can be safe in knowing that I have done everything inside my control and just let go of everything else. At least that’s my hope.

And third, life happened. When I was giving this webinar, I happened to be cat-sitting with a cute young kitten who apparently got overexcited when I started talking about SOLID (who can blame him, right?), and decided that jumping on my keyboard and biting my legs was the way to share in the fun. I put on the best poker face I could, but still I was frustrated and a bit angry. I had spent weeks preparing a perfect speech, and now I had to deal with something unexpected and annoying that was throwing me off.

Nevertheless, the talk went well, the participants enjoyed it, my explanations were clear and well-paced, and I had a good time as well.

All of this got me thinking. So much is happening in the lives of the people who put themselves out there, online, to teach or entertain us, stuff that is not always visible, but still presents a challenge for them. We never see any of this, yet we still judge them and spend way more time criticising their failures than praising their successes.

Going through experiences like this teaches me about empathy towards others and what they are going through, but also about resilience and being kinder to myself.

What has public speaking taught you?

Discussion (1)

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Patrick Wendo

A while back I had to pitch my solution during a Hackathon. I was the 3rd presenter to speak and what I learned was to trust in myself and my presentation.

If I had done the research, and written up a good presentation, then I had nothing to fear. Anything that goes wrong afterwards will go wrong and it will be out of my control. I also learned to lean into my mistakes. Most presenters are nervous. By leaning into my mistakes, it made me seem more confident and less embarrassed than I actually was.

I'm glad you got a chance to present to people. It's always an exciting challenge that people should try every once in a while IMO