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Josefine Schfr
Josefine Schfr

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Speaking at Tech Confs - Where to Speak

This is the third part in a series on speaking at tech conferences - it focuses on selecting the right events for delivering your talk.

Once you are decided on your topic, you have the agony of choice: there are many different opportunities for you to deliver your talk. Especially with the shift to virtual or hybrid events, the world is your oyster: If it’s more convenient to you, you wouldn’t even have to leave your house to deliver a talk to a global audience. Let’s dive right into all the options:

Internal Events

If you are still a bit hesitant or would like to start more low-key, internal events at your organization or company might be a good start. You will know most of the people already, usually, these events are not public, and most likely the audience size is limited. Of course, this really depends on your company, at Storyblok for example, we have these quarterly ‘DevJams’, internal events for knowledge sharing among all engineers. Events like these are usually a great, safe environment for you to practise your talk. These could, of course, be virtual or in-person.


Another good starting point are meet-ups - usually, these are more informal and smaller gatherings than conferences, centred on learning and sometimes focussed on a specific topic. Depending on your talk, there might even be groups in your area who would surely be more than happy to have you. If they don’t have official CFPs, you can still join yourself to check out the event or email the organizers, if you’d like to dive in head first and deliver your talk straight away. A good place to find meet-ups is

Tech Conferences

When it comes to tech conferences, you have plenty of options to choose from: there are more general events, framework-specific ones, virtual, in-person and hybrid editions - there is definitely no shortage here. The more your talk topic fits the overall theme of the conference, the more likely you will be accepted. It might be worth tailoring your talk a little towards the topic of the conference if possible - this will increase your chances.

Virtual vs. In-Person Confs

When applying, consider whether you would like to travel, will be able to cover the costs or whether there is an opportunity to get a speakers stipend to cover travelling expenses. It’s definitely a great opportunity to travel and meet people in person if your schedule allows it, but given the time and resources it takes, it’s worth reflecting on it.

Rocker ready to perform virtually, asking to his screen 'Can you hear me?'

I always found speaking virtually a little less stressful - you likely can’t see the people watching, and you will be able to make yourself as comfortable as possible, including moral support pets, plenty of speaker notes and the opportunity to scream into a pillow beforehand. That being said, at least for me, it was also a little less rewarding. Online confs and virtual talks are great, it’s amazing how accessible it is for folks who can’t travel, but nothing beats the energy in a room full of people who are curious about a similar thing.

Pre-recording vs. Virtual Live Talks

In some cases, the event organizers leave it up to you whether you’d like to give your talk live or would prefer to pre-record. Both have their perks, and of course, it’s tempting to have as many chances to re-record if something doesn’t go the way you planned. BUT. If you are a nervous little perfectionist like me, this might be your downfall. Even for short talks, the amount of time it takes to set things up properly, test them, deliver your talks (and limit yourself not to do it 37 times) and then edit it, is exponentially longer than jumping on a call with the conf team to record. Usually, most of the technical setup will be done on their side, so you don’t have to worry about it, they might even edit it and if you go terribly wrong, they will for sure give you a second go.

Man typing madly on his keyboard, the caption reads 'delete, delete, delete'

Other Conferences & Events

Since you are reading this on, chances are you’d like to speak at a dev conference, which is a perfectly good option. Once in a while, it might be worth expanding ones own horizon and thinking outside the box: there are for example Design and UX conferences which are interested in also hosting dev speakers. Sometimes marketing events are super keen on getting a more technical perspective - you see where I’m going.

One last thing to consider:

Code of Conduct

You might want to check if an event has a code of conduct before considering speaking there. Codes of Conduct define basic rules of interactions and the content of the talks to create a welcoming, supportive atmosphere at the event. If you’d like to see an example of what this could look like, check out Smashing Confs CoC.

Where did you start speaking? What kind of event do you like the most? I'm so curious; let me know in the comments ⬇️

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