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How to Become a Tech Conference Speaker - Brooke Jamieson - NDC Sydney 2021


This session will cover my 2-year journey from having a panic attack before my first conference talk in 2019 through to having now completed 20+ Conference Talks, University Guest Lectures and Panel Discussions to Australian and International Audiences. This is the talk I wish I could have heard early in my career and I'll step through what to do (and what not to do) to break through the Catch-22 of becoming a speaker, and making your voice heard in the industry. Audiences from different software/tech backgrounds will get value out of this session regardless of their career stage, as I'll discuss how to achieve these goals for yourself, but also how to help guide any staff you manage towards these goals as well. Join me for an interactive and informative session where you can learn from my mistakes, and learn how becoming a speaker can have great career benefits.
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Cool, great. And we'll get started. So like I said earlier in the chat as well. Please leave comments and questions along the way that I will get to at the end. First of all, I would just like to take some time to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land I'm broadcasting from today. I don't normally show this map, but I wasn't sure how international the audience would be today. So this is a map of different Aboriginal language groups across Australia. So the language groups and the cultural or clan groups are a little bit different. But this at least shows you more about what's going on. So I'd like to acknowledge the younger and tourable people who are the traditional owners of the land that I'm broadcasting from today. And as you can see here, I put a little circle around Brisbane, but you can really see how rich this heritage is in Australia. And if this isn't something that you know about, definitely take some time to look into it because there's such a rich history here. And I think that's something that Australia really could and should share more with the world. I lost my time, but we're back. Cool. So how to become a tech conference speaker? And so what I'll do today is I'll talk through a little bit more about why I'm doing this talk and then at the end, just smash through with actionable, things that you can actually take away from this. But I wanted to start to talk about really what has led to all of this. So this first picture is me. Probably about five years ago, I had such bad anxiety that I tried to go to events. I would force myself to still get ready because that was in my wheelhouse hours and I would always force myself to get public transport to the venue. But then I would usually just have a panic attack at or near the door and then immediately go home. And I did this for a while, honestly, I kept forcing myself to go because I knew I did want to get better at this, but it was a journey. So it led to the second phase, which is something I'll call the fake it till you make it phase. I just kept trying to power through. I would stay in the venue. I finally get into the venue. Fantastic. Stay for a few minutes and talk to people and then leave early. And I just kept doing this all the time. Another good point is that all of this I was doing on my own as well. I think if I had waited to go with a friend, I still would never have gone to an event of any kind yet. So really just faking it till I made it and trying to push through as best I could, I finally started to make some friends. At this stage, Brisbane is fantastic because it is a really vibrant tech and startup community here and everyone's really excited to meet everyone else. So once I started to see some familiar faces and make some friends, this whole process got a lot easier and I would be so excited to see people that I haven't seen in a while at events and it just started to get a little less daunting. This stage is where I started plotting a little bit more so I would find myself I really loved going to panels just because I feel like that was the most engaging for me. And then I could always in the back of my mind think about things that I would like to say on that panel if I was asked one of the questions, or I would, even if I was super brave, that they start asking questions at the end of panels. Really just starting to go through working bit by bit the way up. And the final stage, I had sunglasses on at this point. Cool, obviously. And this is where I started speaking at conferences, so I worked my way up and then started speaking at really small virtual events and then I've done really large in person conferences as well. So really just approaching this from an incremental standpoint and this is really what I wanted to talk about today because when I was down in stage one, I kept seeing people posting advice on how to become a speaker, but they were all really extroverted and outgoing and neurotypical and I just found that I couldn't resonate with it at all and they'd never had to try, so they didn't really have any strategies to make things easier because it came so naturally to them. So most of this talk is just me showing you that it is possible to make iterative improvements, and I'll step through what lots of those improvements and lessons are that I've learnt along the way so that you can learn from my mistakes. So it's not as bad for you. And I'm really hopeful that at the end of this you'll be able to start applying for some conferences or start applying for some meetups locally in your community so that you can work your way up and then just put all of the pieces into place so that you can start making this for yourself. Because the whole thing is to work out why you actually want to talk. Some people want to talk at a conference because they want to be known as a really smart person, or they want to be the most authoritative topic, or they want to really be the one that owns a specific programming language or something like that, or they just want an ego boost. I didn't want any of that. So until I really worked out why I wanted to speak at conferences, I just really couldn't force myself to make those extra leads. So working at the start about why I wanted to do that was a really key part for me, and this is pretty much that. So this is a picture of my house, very personal to share. This is an art I made for myself. You can tell I made it because there's pencil glue to it, and I don't think you could buy it like that. But be who you needed when you were younger is really my core value. My motto that I live by. I think the world and especially Tech would be a much better place if more people lived by this. So if you're writing documentation, write it for the new developer five years ago, ten years ago, something that would have really helped you to understand those concepts. And if you're living in that aspect, it really helps. And I brought this into conference speaking as well, because when I was at going through those stages, when I start to really think about when I decided I could and should start speaking at conferences, there's a few speakers that stood out to me and I saw them on panels or I saw them doing a keynote and I just thought, this is something that I could do. I could actually be getting through this. And it wasn't until I'd seen one or two people that really did change the course of my life. So that's really what I go into speaking with every time I talk. I just want one person in the audience to think that they could also be a conference speaker. I'm not trying to be the most knowledgeable or anything like that. It's just more about how can I open more doors for more people. And that's really what drives me. And that helps me so much because it makes me less nervous. It's helped me so much with imposter syndrome, because I'm just making sure the goal posts that I'm actually going for are meaningful to me but also attainable, which is really good. So this might not be what you want to go into speaking for. This is just for me, but I would say find out what it is specifically for you to work out why you actually want to talk at a conference and then use that to guide you along the process, because that will help you to start talking at conferences, but it will also help you to understand what you should talk about or which specific conferences you should really chase after if you can get to the core of why you want to talk in the first place. And this as well. So I'll go through a little bit about me now because this will help you to understand some of the conferences that I've spoken at first. This is how I represent my resume, which is a bit weird, but the first part of the set diagram is my maths background. I studied pure maths at University. I've also gone on to study data engineering. I now work at Black Book, which is an AI machine learning consulting firm. So that's a really big part of everything that I do. There's really rigorous technical background, but then on top of that, bringing creative problem solving. I've always been someone who's solving problems or looking at things from different directions. So that's a big part of everything that I do as well. I've also worked as a user experience manager for a global prop tech firm and really bringing in all of my design and marketing and behavioral science knowledge, applying that to everything that is part of what I do as well. And the last part, which is not a skill that I ever wanted to have or tried to have and it really does come from a part of my life earlier that we'll get to in just a little bit, but talking to people in the media because I realized after my degree that there was no point getting to a result if I couldn't tell anyone about it. So being able to not only do the technical aspects at the start, but then be able to problem solve using those technical tools and then do that in a user centric way and then talk to people, that's really where I fit into all of this. And I think it's important to go through a diagram like this, not just to tell you about me, but also because I think everyone should do this. Drawing a diagram like this for yourself or a way that helps you to understand your sort of pillars of information will really help you to then dissect what sort of conferences you could or should speak at. You can look at the same problem through different lenses then, because if I was doing, I could do a talk about artificial intelligence at a user experience conference or at a design conference or through a PR lens or something like that. Just being able to understand your different facets of knowledge and really unpack them in this way will help you to be more strategic about what conferences you can actually make available to yourself. So we'll get started now with the other parts of it. So more practical tips. And this is my previous life, so what the fashion models and tech speakers have in common? The part I left out of my diagram is that I modeled in Australia and overseas during and after University. Once again, not something I ever set out to do. It's just a very good job to have during University. But it wasn't until I actually started doing conference speaking that I realized how similar so many aspects of conference speaking are to modeling. And I think a really cool part of this at the end of the day is in neither field, no one tells you how to do it, no one's upfront about this is what you should actually do or this is a pathway that actually works because everyone wants to sort of keep other people out of it. So it keeps more jobs for them, and I just have never had an interest in that. I have no interest in that. So I really want to break that down to make it more attainable for other people. And so I went through some transferable skills from my past life. And the first and key point is that a bad headshot will haunt you when you have to send a headshot with every single speaker application. And every time the graphic design teams of that conference will go to town with that headshot. So I would recommend I still hate having my photo taken. It's a chore. I don't like it, but being really deliberate about making sure you have a nice photo that you don't mind being on every single website until the end of time is going to pay dividends long term and make sure it's something that does actually look like you in person and something that really reflects what you're trying to achieve with your speaking and everything like that. I know it's uncomfortable. Most aspects of preparing for speaking are uncomfortable, but it's just one of the key things that will really help you to look more legitimate as a speaker and book more established things, as well as doing that in a way that ties in with everything else you're actually trying to achieve. So I know it's uncomfortable power through and this idea of being able to show yourself the way that you want to be seen, you really have to be strategic about your brand and think about what is my speaker persona, if you want to call it a persona or something like that, to make sure that how that actually ties in with everything else. Some people, when they do speaking, they only speak from their company point of view, so they only ever talk about the company that they work for through that lens. I have never really done that, but it's more about everything that I do directly tied into the work that I do. But it is still coming from Brooke, the person, not Brooke, the employee of the company. And you have to be really strategic about how to do that in a mindful way that's really respectful to your company, but also will keep things fine for you if you do end up changing companies or jobs so that you still have some sort of continuity there. And so to be strategic about it, you have to understand what your brand is. So that exercise, withdrawing, sort of overlapping circles can really help you to understand where you sit at the intersection of and that can help you to then work out what you need to do. But the same thing with modeling is no one's ever going to show you how to do this stuff. It's just the good people that rise to the top have done this. So you just have to find a way that's natural for you to be able to do it. And you have to be really strategic from the absolute start. And this part as well as setting goals and work out how to actually reach them. Speaking like modeling is a huge pyramid. So with modeling you don't walk in and book the cover of Vogue for your first job. That's not a thing. So you end up doing you do smaller. They're called test shoots where you don't get paid and that's where like a new photographer or maybe a student photographer or something like that, up and coming people will work for free to everyone boost their portfolio. And the equivalency to that in speaking is doing your local meetups, which maybe are in person in a room with 20 people and obviously they're not going to pay you for that because people aren't paying for tickets for that. So working out what are little things you can do. I would say at the bottom of the pyramid for speaking as well is also filming video content somewhere on the internet. Just because that shows that you can at least speak and it's a way you can break out of that catch 22 of how you get experience and then you can move up to sort of mid tier conferences, maybe start to do some larger events that are ticketed and then you can get up to doing more international events and things like that. So you have to really plan strategically how you're going to move up through the pyramid. But you can only do that if you realize that it's a pyramid on the start. So modeling is the exact same and the same thing in modeling is no one ever tells you this, no one really plans this out for you. You just really have to be in charge of that. So work out what your goals are and then how you can reach those in a way that aligns with your brand that you're giving out and then what you would actually like to bring to speaking as well and as part of the pyramid, transitioning from free gigs to getting paid is really hard. It's the same thing for modeling when you start to get paid. It's really weird. Some people just start booking really large campaigns or they might do a type of modeling that pays really well. Speaking is the same. There are different types of speaking that paid different amounts and it really does change regionally as well, especially in Australia. It's really hard compared to America where lots of things are paid. A few ways to get around this. Number one is just as a side note, I've always donated my speaker fees because it's a nice thing to do and because I would have to work a lot harder to actually raise that money for charity. But also when I do international work, I can just donate that money to a women's shelter or a local queer organization, something like that, that will be near there. So I'm not ever having to do the double tax transfers it's a lot. And then the other side of getting donation money is that you're making sure that people are still valuing your time and not expecting you to work for free. But you can get through those early stages of charging weird and small amounts of money that would be sort of uncomfortable if you build for them. I guess it's weird to send. So if you send someone an invoice for like $40 or something, if you're just thinking about an hourly rate, that's always uncomfortable. But doing those as tax deductible donations to register charities is a good way to sort of break out of that loop. And the other part of getting paid for speaking, especially in Australia, is especially in tech. You can understand that even if you're not getting paid by a conference to talk. If you think about the amount your salaried as a job, if you were getting a new job, would you get more money if you had done speaking before? So work out how much of an increase your salary would get over the year as a result of the speaking you're doing, and then think about that as payment for speaking is often a lot more sensible in terms of how you can actually get extra money from this. And that also means you can do a more varied range of talks that are going to lead to the end goals you and your employer would also want. So just think about it more creatively about how you can actually unlock this, and then think about it within the realm of that pyramid as well. And the thing that people never understand about modeling is that being on time will book you more work than being really skinny or pretty or something like that. Being on time, really. I get repeat bookings from that just because I was super organized with things, they always still running a business. Time is money, it's being on time. And the same thing goes with speaking. Being known as the person who's really on time and up to date with deadlines is going to be so valuable long term because of reputation really does stay with you. So when you're freaking out about thinking, oh, I'm not good enough at this, I'm not good enough at that. You can always be on time and you can always be friendly. And this really will just carry with you and think about little things like this you can do that will set you apart from the pack early on because it makes it so much more attainable. And now please bear with me for a brief selfhelp tangent that I know will be uncomfortable, but it's also helpful. So just stay with me through this. But have you tried speaking to the manager within what I'm talking about? Mapping out your values and mapping out your different facets of knowledge and information. It really is important, and I know it's deeply uncomfortable. I hate it. I hated every aspect of it, but I wouldn't have been able to make those incremental growth step changes, I guess if I wasn't really actively trying to work with this. I have worked so hard with different medical professionals and mental health professionals to get my anxiety and neurodiversity to a point where I was working with it, not against it. And that's really helped me to have success in this field. And no one ever talks about this. With regards to public speaking, it is stressful. It's stressful for everyone. But that doesn't mean it's not a learnable skill. So approaching us with self development mindset, not to get too woo woo, but it will actually help you along the way. And I really would find out what this actually means for you. And this is what will help you to be a better speaker. Because if you only watch speaker training of American men who are used car salesmen teaching you how to do salespeople stuff, I don't know, maybe that resonates for you, but it doesn't resonate with me at all. And I never found myself in that. Like I couldn't resonate with it and I couldn't see how I would actually apply it. But getting to know yourself, your value then you can bring to a conference will help you so much more to place yourself in strategic speaking roles that you're trying to get to and really help you to map out. So it's worth it. Have you tried speaking to the manager within? Yes. I found this on a surrealist Instagram page, and a big part of that as well as being genuinely genuine. I don't know better way to phrase this, but audiences are smart. They can tell when you're hiding something. They can tell when you're putting on a facade. Audiences are smart in that way. So your best bet is to be unashamedly yourself. People always will find it more endearing if you make a mistake, but you're really just absolutely yourself when you're doing it. So being really upfront and vulnerable and honest with your audience will always go such a long way. Even when it comes to maybe you're worried about technical details of things I always get very stressed about if I'm doing what I feel like is a very technical presentation, just because it never seems like it's just always so much harder. So work out what it actually is to be genuine for yourself. So work out a speaking style that works for you specifically. If you're really introverted, find a way to work with that. Don't try to fight that. Just get to the core of who you are. Allow yourself to be yourself, and then just power through with that. People will tell you to try and put on a mask or something, but it's just not worth it. And people will. I wouldn't like to go to a conference talk that was like that. So instead think about the conference talks that you really actually like to go to, and what did you notice about it? And so for me, always it's when I really feel like I have a genuine connection to the speaker because I feel like I know them a little bit better after talking. And that's what I always look for in a conference. But I'm remembering back on the conference talks that I really enjoyed going to. So if you're being yourself, that always helps so much as well. And it will help you to be more consistent. You're not going to be having to try to put on a consistent brand. If you're consistent brand, it's just you the whole time. So be genuinely genuine. I wish I had a better way to sum that point up. Now we're going to get into the more actionable tips, I guess. And so much of this section, which broadly I'll call worked smarter, not harder, is because I don't like a lot of these tasks. So I've just worked out ways to optimize them over time to really help just make everything a little bit easier and run more streamlined. So many aspects of this come back to you can get better at talking before you're even talking at conferences by just being more alert and aware when you do go to events. So maybe next time you haven't even bought tickets to a conference and you're looking through the agenda sheet of a conference and work out which talks you actually want to go to other talk titles that really stick out to you, or there's some abstracts that you think are really well written, make note of them somewhere, keep them in a list. I'm sure if you are very on the ball, you could probably make a machine learning model that reads in all the talk titles you are interested in and just fits out new talk titles for you. I'm sure you could do that, but otherwise just think about yourself, keep a note file on your phone or something and just be more aware when you are watching people talk, especially when in person events start again. Yeah, fingers crossed. Being able to look at what something the speaker says or does that really engages the audience, or is it something that they do that you notice the body language change in the audience? Just being more aware when you are sort of passively listening to conferences or stuff that you would normally be doing anyway will help you so much to get speaking experience and confidence and little tips and tricks without actually having to get up and speak in front of people. And that's across the board one of the key tips. And then I'll sort of go through now different ways that I've actually applied that, but just be more aware and think about what you're doing. So even if you really didn't like some of my slides, keep a note of that. If there were some aspects you really did like. Keep a note of that and think about that with the rest of the talks this afternoon as well. Think about how you would do it differently if you wanted to or what parts you could incorporate. Think about that. So obviously don't copy things word for word from any speaker, but think about how you can make it your own and be genuine in doing that with the worst graphic Design learn some graphic design principles is a really key tip. Sometimes if you're doing a presentation at work, there might be someone who's going to make all your slides for you and make everything look really nice for you. It's unlikely you'll have someone to do that for other speaking things. So learn some graphic design principles. Work out how to make things look nice. That's a really easy clean where you can keep reproducing that work as well. So you don't have to think about it every time. Just learn some basic principles and a lot of this you'll start to get an eye for when you just are more engaged when you're looking at other things. So if you really like not this slide, obviously. But if there's a different slide that you really like the composition of work out why it was like that, or if you liked the design of something, work out how you can achieve that design. You can make slides and graphic design in PowerPoint is actually to help make social media posts. If you just change the slide size or things like Figma, if that's something you use with your different add ons, work out what's actually work for you. And how you can get to those principles over time will help you so much as you move through and just keep working on what this is actually going to look like. Obviously, don't do this and we'll talk about more about how to make it a little bit easier. The first step is to make your own slide templates. This is helpful because it makes it faster every time you need to present at a conference because you're not thinking about what to put on every slide. You've sort of made a template that you can use over time. And this is also really helpful when you start to get a few different conference talks because maybe there's some common slides between. And if you've used the same template, you can sort of drag slides across and it will look really consistent, which is super helpful over time. So make your own template that you can reproduce and work out how to make it your own. So this is when you need to understand if you are going to do it as you as an employee of your company or you as a person working out where that actually fits in the middle. Because if you're going to do your first talk as you as a person, you probably can't use your company's slide template for that. So just thinking about where this actually does fit in, and I would say as well, the easiest tip to make it look like you know what you're doing with graphic design is, well, the first one is just have slides that aren't white. People always think you've tried harder when the background is not white, because then you can't paste an image in that's got a white border. It just looks like you've tried harder. And then the other side is just get good fonts and colors and things like that. But especially with virtual conferences, I don't know the composition, but my face is going to be very small compared to the slide. And sometimes if it's a Zoom conference, the picture is tiny, tiny in the bottom corner. So these are going to be full screen. It's going to be what most people see. So making sure it actually looks nice will help you so much along the way. And the easiest way to make this even more consistent is to make your own style guide. A style guide. If you have worked with one, especially if you're a front end developer, you would have seen a star guide. And it's just sort of these are the brand colors. These are the fonts that we use. This is how we do things. So it sort of just gives you a recipe for all different types of media and materials you can have it through for your social media posts, even just making sure that it is your style guide. This just makes things really reproducible. They're common in businesses because there might be a huge marketing team and there are different people designing different pieces of material, but they all need to look the same. So it's a way of making it reproducible in that sense. But just make it easier on yourself and make a style guide that's yours. Because then, as I was saying, you can swap slides between Slideshows and things like that, and then it really helps you to have people will know when they see your slides because it looks a certain way. So this is Spotify Designs. I found it just online. If you start searching for brand guidelines, you can find them. There's probably one at your company you can start with. And the easiest thing is to just start with the style guide that you've used before and then work out how you need to fill in the blanks to actually make it right. So the IBM design language is actually really thorough, especially for accessibility reasons. But essentially they've got this is what our logos look like. These are the colors. So instead of thinking about just making your star guide colors, what the actual colors are chosen, how many boxes do I need to fill in? Maybe the star guide you're used to working with has maybe four core colors, and then they've got a whole color set for visualizations and accents and things. Just think of that as a lithebox technique and just replace all the colors with colors for you and it will give you more of an idea about how to fix it. And if you start with a style guide that you've used practically before, it will really help you because then you already know your way around it. There's whole books on how to make a style guide. You don't need to go that far. Just think about what's the minimum pieces that you actually use day to day if you're using a star guide to develop something, especially if you're a front end developer, and then think about how you can actually make that for yourself, and then it will give you a complete style guide at the end without having to think too much. And then if you end up adding extra elements and stuff to that, you can just keep that in a file over time so it grows with you and can evolve with you as well if you don't know how to do font pairing. So a font pairing is when you have a heading in one font and then the text in another. This website is really helpful so you can scroll down and they've got examples of different font pairs. If you have a font pair, it looks like you know what design is because you can have that on every slide and people know that a heading is a heading and body text is that. So you can really sort of just work that out over time. This one's good because it only shows you Google font, so it should work if you're using Google Slides or other web based things, but just decide on a font pairing and go with it. Add that into your style guide. This should help you to make you look like, you know, design without actually having to be an expert in this field and for colors. So accessibility is good because it helps you to make sure that everyone can actually get the information that you're trying to give them, which is the point of speaking at the end of the day. But accessibility on slides is really important as well if you're ever speaking in real life because lots of projectors are just garbage. So if you have accessible color combinations so for this contrast checker that I use, this is a web aim one. There's so many out there, but if it's passing the WCAG guidelines on the contrast check, so that's the difference in contrast between the front and back layers. Essentially a color that means that you will still be able to see it even if the projector is terrible and the window curtains open on the windows and it's just bad. But you'll still be able to see it because there's good contrast. So it's good practice to do for accessibility, but it will really give you a lot of safeguards to avoid having to tune a projector to a certain range you'll always be able to see it. And the same thing for color blindness. If you pick your initial color palette when you're making your style guide with these two things in mind, it will be accessible by design because you can already work out. What color combinations can I use? Can people with different vision see the differences between the color? This David MathLogic site I use all the time because it shows you through different types of vision, how different colors are perceived. So it's really helpful for making the style guide at the start, but it's something I even come into when I'm using user experience design tools and things like that. I always come back to these so good because it's accessible, but even better if you're just not sure what sort of projector you're going to come into. And on this note as well, when you are designing your slides, try them on lots of different screen types. So put it on your phone with the brightness down, and go and stand in the sun somewhere and see what it looks like. Or if you've got a really dodgy projector in the office, try them on that. Or on an old screen, a TV screen that you can put them on. See what it looks like really large. Because if you've never worked with a large projector before, you don't really have a good sense of what text is too big. So you can run tests yourself to see at what point font can you see things or is it too big or is it too small? Being able to test those out over time is really helpful, and if you can then add that into your style guide, it just makes everything so much more reproducible. No one ever talks about this in practice, but just do it. Think about it a lot at the start and then you can reuse the same thing every time. Same thing goes with database. If you're someone that does a lot of data visualization in your speaking slides and things like that, work out what a style guide is for your charting, and then just make that consistent. Because then if you're reusing chart elements across presentations, great, you can just keep going and it will be so much easier to skip between them or go back or other things like that. You'll just be able to keep it really consistent over time, even if you're saying all of my charts will always be in squares or something. That way, if you swap the chart up for a different one, there's a square gap in the slide that you can then fill in. So all of this just comes back to making it easy on yourself. Which is why I said work smarter, not harder. I know it seems like a lot of work to organize, but honestly, anything you can do to really reduce the amount you have to think about things when you're getting ready for a talk will just take so much pressure off you, especially if you're already really nervous about speaking. It's just one less thing to worry about and one thing that you know will go smoothly because you've already worked it out. So just think about little things like this that you can do to prepare as well. If you're someone that's showing code snippets in your slides, work out what you're actually going to do to use that and do it the same way every time. There's different ways you can do that. Maybe you just want to do a screenshot of whatever code editor you're using. I don't mind whatever you do end up using, just make sure you've got a plan so that you can keep doing it every time so that you're able to reproduce it so that then if you have a last minute change to one of the lines of code, it's a one step process to update that not a 50 step screenshot. This crop, this change the colors later, just have it streamlined. So if there are last minute changes, you're being kind to yourself in that process. So now I'm going to step through every single thing I did to get this speaking spot at NDC Sydney. This is something that once again, no one ever talks about this because they think that if they're going to tell someone how to speak at a conference, there'll be more competition for speaking at conferences, which there is. But I also think there's enough speaking spots going around for everyone. And I think as well, this is what keeps early career people from speaking, or this is what keeps maybe diverse audiences from speaking just because no one's really stepped through how to do it. So I'll step through now everything I did to prepare for this. I found the call for speaker, so I did NDC last year as well. You can watch my video on YouTube where I physically choke in the middle of it. Fantastic. But you can go through and there's like different call for speaker pages. I knew there was one for NDC because I had spoken at it last year. So I went to the NDC website to find that page. I think it was also advertised quite heavily on Twitter, so it's a really good place to keep track of call for speakers. And then it takes you to a website called Session Eyes. Session Eyes is one of the key speaker platforms I've seen. The other one is called Paper Call that I've seen used as well. Other times it's just a Google form or other times you just email someone. But Session Eyes is the biggest sort of centralized platform I've seen. So it's a corporate speaker page that will have a little bit of information. So over here it says the regular talks were 60 minutes lightning talks, 15 minutes workshops for two days, and then they give you some suggestions for topics. So this is where it's really important because NDC is so broad. It's not a really pinpointed conference. So being able to think what can you actually present in a way that I get around? This is my previous keynote talk that I would do quite heavily was called the persuasion equation. So that was hard to make your voice heard when people don't want to listen to you. So being able to be really persuasive with data visualization. And I chose that as a topic initially because it was a topic that I could really skew for whatever type of conference I was going for. So if I was going to be doing that at a business conference, I could make it super business focused, but I could do the same conference. And I have done it at artificial intelligence or really heavily focused data science conferences as well. So it's got this core sort of that's really core material. And then the other 20% I would fine tune that for whatever conference I was speaking at, which is really helpful if you can think about how making it easy for yourself. If you can think of a topic that is really helpful but broad, then you can tailor that. So something that's not too broad, that it means nothing, but something that you can really tailor and apply to other things. So when you're drawing your Venn diagram with the circles, think about something that you could tailor to each of those specific pillars of the Venn diagram as you're going through. So same with how to become a Tech Conference Speaker. I can pretty much do this talk at any different tech conference, and it's just a matter of working out how I can actually tie that in with what's going on. So they will give you some suggestions. Sometimes they're really specific about what they want. Sometimes they're really broad. Just think about how you can then tailor everything you're going to show into something that will actually make sense for this. And then don't miss the closing date. It's a solid tip. And then always assume that it's the day before or the hour before, because you never know what time zone difference is, what will actually occur. And on this page as well, if you scroll down normally on the thing, they'll tell you if travel is covered or if they'll pay you or all that other logistics information is normally on the session. I pay when you apply and then when you get accepted. This is what it looks like in the back end of session nine. So this is the information down here that I gave them. So I chose a 60 minutes session, which is what you're in. I said this was intermediate, added some Tags that come into the drop down. I hadn't presented this at a conference before. It's my first one for this round of talk and a target audience. And then there's also a link to previous speaking details. So that's sort of most of the information that you need to give. And then what I'll do now is break down how I actually made the description and things like that. No one tells you how to write a session description. And so this is when you're coming into if you're looking more accurately about what sessions you really actually wanted to see at a conference, you can start to sort of get a bank of these together and work out how they're structured, what's covered in them, and then what actually made that interesting to you. So why you wanted to see it and what you actually wanted to get out of it. So this is a description that I submitted for this talk that you are now, which I don't think it was changed. Usually for session, that information gets published directly to the website, pretty much for bait. And so always keep that in mind as well. Make sure anything you put here is fine to be online. Every time I read this, I forget that I mentioned having panic attacks in my first conferences, but think about what you can actually do. So this is how I step through what needs to go in my session description. So the first thing I have, a zingy opener, something with a story or journey that shows that this is personal to me and my expertise specifically. Because this whole thing, you're not trying to sell the conference organizers or the audiences on the idea just as having a session. It's that no, we need to have this session and I need to be the one presenting the session. So sort of two prong. Number one, they need to be interested in it, but it has to be why you are the best person to be delivering that as well. So that's sort of my opener. I also talk if there's some social proof in there. So saying that I started panic attack before my first conference in 2019, not a good memory through to now, doing about 20 of them, as well as University guest lectures, lots of things like that. So it's talking more about the journey of how I put this into practice. The second term is what the talk actually is. So when I'm talking about who you needed when you were younger, this is the talk I wish I could have had early in my career. Great. We're consistent. And then stepping through what's actually in the talk. So breaking the catch, training to becoming a speaker when I was talking about how you can film videos and things like that ahead of time, little things you can do to improve your brand, making your voice heard in the industry. So this is what the meat of the talk actually is. Being able to show that this is a target audience is really helpful for conference organizers. Because if you think about when they're making a conference schedule, they've got different sort of personas in mind for who might attend that conference. So they need to make sure that there's something for everyone in terms of the different personas that will have at the conference. So it needs to be find a way to communicate that it's broad and will be helpful to anyone that attends. But think about specifically the people who think about someone personally in your life that you would like to come to your talk or that would find value in it and then talk about why they would. So this is broad because it's from different software and tech backgrounds, but it's specifically about how you can apply it yourself. But it's also really helpful. Any of this can be applied for staff you manage because lots of the time and performance reviews, people will say they might as a goal for the next year ahead. They might want to become a tech conference speaker, or they might want to do more content based things. And there's not really any good tools to be able to guide them through that process. So it's one of the other things I'm hoping people are going to be able to get out of today in terms of being able to mentor their staff and coach their staff through this process is really daunting. So thinking about who should come to the talk, why would they come to your talk? What will they get out of it? Specifically around the people is good for that third chunk. And the last chunk is being able to show some different additional benefits or being able to look at the problem in a different way. So talking that it is interactive. So we'll have lots of questions at the end, I will be honest about how things didn't go well and then the career benefits that come from speaking are really good. People think that people want to become a speaker. They want to get paid for that specific talk. But as I'm saying, especially in Australia, so much of it just comes back to increased salary or being ahead in someone. You could be exactly the same in terms of qualifications as another person for a job interview. That's down to two people maybe. But if one of you is done speaking, even if you want the same money, you've got the same experience, everything. If one of you starts speaking, it's just a really good way to show different value to the organization because you just stand out in a little bit different ways. So it is really helpful. And this is how I always write my session descriptions. I don't know what the actual formula is because I don't know if there is one, but this is what I do, and it worked over time. When I was starting out, I would apply really heavily and I would actually split test these descriptions. I had sort of two versions that I would do, and I would send different versions in, and then I would see how it goes. And if one was doing really well, then I would start honing that one in. So think about how you can test things out or have a go. The other side is that as they're alluding to before the program started, you don't actually have to have written your talk when you send in a session description. So being able to you can send in session descriptions and just see if they get picked up at a conference or not. You have to know that you do actually have to deliver on that if you get booked to do the conference. But thinking about what you can actually do to maybe you could try to write a session description so you're not really sure we'll work out or not, but you can just have a go and then if it does end up getting picked up at a conference, fantastic. You can write the talk to go along with it. But just thinking you don't have to write the entire talk before you start applying for conferences. And don't let that stop you or be a friction point in terms of learning to talk at conferences because you can just start applying with session descriptions and then when you get booked for one, then you'll actually have to do it. But it's a really good way. If you're just sort of testing the waters to see what will happen, you can start applying over time. So now my speaker bio as well. No one tells you how to write this either, and it's really uncomfortable if you don't want to write your speaker bio. Find someone either that you work with or you work for, or find someone in the comments of this who you can trade with or a friend and just write each other's. Sneaker Buyer It's so much easier to be really polite and kind to a friend than it is to write nice things about yourself. It's deeply uncomfortable, but just work out someone that you can trade with because then at the end of it you'll both have speaker buyers. Fantastic. And it's easy. This is sort of how I structure mine. This is also what I use as my LinkedIn bio. Just so it's a system the first thing at a tagline. This is actually how I explained my job to my parents because I'm head of Enablement for AI machine learning and data. That sounds very fake, but it's a very real job and I'm very much in between the really rigorous maths data engineering tech side with user experience and talking to people. So this ties back in with that Venn diagram I was talking about. But then it means that if at an in person conference, if they need a way to talk about me and introduce me really quickly, fantastic, they've got it. If they need a tagline when they're writing copy to do social media posts from the conference, they've got information. So just giving people the right information in this section, because this is what you fill out in session. And once again they can and will publish it anywhere. So if you give good information to the organization that's going to be running the conference, they'll have everything they need to write about you in a way that makes sense. Then you won't get stuck with weird descriptions that don't make sense for you. And that will usually only happen if you haven't given them enough information to work with. So I always start with a really quick tagline. This first paragraph is sort of my actual bias. So what I tell to conferences if I apply to them, not through session, if I'm just emailing them. I always say, if you need a short bio, just use this first paragraph. If you would like a long buyer, use both. And that's because often, especially on printed information, maybe they want to go to small space, or if they want a really long section to fill out a page. That's why I give them both. So think about how you can structure your bio to give them stuff to work with, and that will once again just help their marketing team to do a better job of talking about you in a way that makes sense. This is sort of my actual bio talks about my job, where I work, what my degrees are in, what I actually do, what I like at my job. So overall they specialize in researching and developing technically robust solutions that help nondata people harness the power of AI. That's what I do. I talk to people who don't understand data about how to get the most out of it. It's just a very long way of saying. And the second part is get to know me. So all of this talks about all the other stuff that I do outside of my actual job. So all the speaking lecturing, things like that, all the work I do in regional Queensland with the queer community. This is good because it shows that I'm a real person and it makes it a little bit more personal, but it also really filters out. If a conference sees this and they don't want anything to do with me, this will surely filter them out straight away. And I wouldn't want to speak that either. So it's helpful on two fronts. Not only getting to know me a little bit more, but absolutely filters out people that you wouldn't want to be around anyway. So this is how I write my speaker bio. Obviously, if you copy paste this for yourself, it's not going to work out. So think about more about what you actually do and how you can best communicate that because your speaker is well audiences to see you on the website. But it's also the stuff that will help you to get noticed by conference organizers if they're going to be looking through BIOS to work out, if they're tossing up between two people, it gives you an opportunity to tell them more about yourself when you can't introduce yourself in real life. So that's how I break this down. Once again, there's no guidebook to this. This is just what I've worked out over time. So I also did some social media posts. This is what my Tweet looks like. I made this graphic myself. I went on the NBC website and found the color schemes and sort of made the graphics myself. If you don't, this is why you need to know how to do a little bit of graphic design. The thing with social media posts is almost always the image size is just 1200 X 628. So if you set a PowerPoint slide of that Pixel dimension, you can just make the graphic in PowerPoint and then export it as an image. And you don't need to have Canva Figma or Photoshop or any actual design tools. You can just crank that up. Which is why it's really helpful if you have either a style guide for yourself or something like that. Just because you can make it easier over time, especially if it's a photo of you, you can work that in. So I always just put. I always make sure I do these ahead of time. This is good for my LinkedIn because it helps you to book other conferences, but it also keeps that conference happy knowing that you've promoted them. And I always make my company logo really large on this just to show that, especially if you need time of work to be able to speak at conferences or things like that. Always very thankful too, especially Black Book for being so supportive of me. So I'm always trying to make sure that it's not just me touting myself as Brooke, but it's specifically improving the brand of Black Book AI my employer as well. So it's just keeping everyone happy. And I always link to where to get more info or tickets or things like that. This one, I actually made a Tik Tok which I don't know if this video will work, but it's me and a cat that I was babysitting talking about TikTok. I don't know, find out whatever actually works for you and keep going with that over time and just work out different ways that you can talk about what you're doing, because then it will help more people to find you and it will really just help you to book more things in the future, which is what you're trying to do at the end of the day. And then so how to get experience when you have no experience. So on that session I page earlier, there was a link to my previous speaking. So this is what I send in. This is actually the last pages of my resume where I list the recent speaking stuff that I've done and also media. If you've never spoken at a conference and you would like to talk at a conference, the easiest thing you can do is just to make LinkedIn videos where you're talking about a topic that you like. So just you can be talking to camera or you can film something on Zoom or on Zoom or on Webex where you're sharing slides and talking to them. Being able to do those little snippets of video content is really easy content to crank out, but it's also showing that you can talk to camera even if no one booked you to do that. So you can take control of that and really just get ahead of that. It's sort of like when you buy scissors and they're in a plastic container and you need scissors to cut the scissors out of the container so you can get in and it's just this whole loop ordeal. But getting ahead of this and just thinking about what can I actually do ahead of this? Some of the media that I put down, those are written articles that I've submitted to publications or interviews that I've done for different events and things. So it's all about just showing that, Hello, I'm a real person, I have communication skills. Finding different ways to do that will help you so much, especially if it does get down to two or three of you that the conference organizers are trying to work out who will be a safe bet, because at the end of the day, if they're selling tickets, they want to put on a great event. So just being able to show that you can deliver on what you're saying to deliver, get creative and find different ways to talk about this. Even if that's written articles or just getting in the habit of doing some video content somewhere that you can link to show that you are a real person, you can do this will go an absolutely long way, even if you've never been booked to speak somewhere before, if this is relevant to you. So I went to the Global Diversity CFP Day. It's a worldwide event, but there's normally some in capital cities. There's definitely one in Brisbane that I went to. It was in either January or February and they fully showed us how to write speaker, buyers, descriptions, even things like Stagecraft is also really good resources on their website. If you or anyone you manage is a member of a diverse community, really get them to apply to this and go along. It was honestly one of the most positive things I did in terms of getting myself confidence to speak. So it's a great initiative to get involved with. Additionally, if you are from a large employer and you would like to sponsor them, I'm not affiliated with them, I just went to their event. It was fantastic. Definitely sponsor it, put money behind it. If you're ever someone that's complained that you couldn't get a diverse range of speakers for your event, this is a great way to help the pipeline of speakers and to give people confidence that are from diverse backgrounds. So it was really fantastic. The other side is I also became an AWS community builder. So there's a QR code to join the Waitlist, I believe for the next round. This is my LinkedIn post page about it. It's actually for you to learn how to write content, to learn how to create video content. I've already booked two speaking things through this because they've helped me to find the CFPs to send into. This is just the one that I'm sure there's the Microsoft MVP program. It's probably the most similar one from Microsoft. I'm sure there's one from Google. I'm sure there's one for whatever platform it is that you're really interested in. Get in touch with someone from their community team or from their marketing team something. Find them on LinkedIn and work out how you can actually get involved. Because all of these vendors want community members to be able to speak at their events. They want people to be able to put out content that's relevant to what they're doing from a company size. So just work with them and work out how you can use that as a board. So I'm in the machine learning program of the community builders, and we get all sorts of benefits and things like that that have really helped out over time. I wish I'd known about this earlier. I would have joined earlier. I think it's quite a new program, but definitely apply if this is something that's relevant to you or apply to whatever it is that's relevant to the stack that you work with. So when you've made your Vin diagram of things you're actually working with, work out how to Hone in on that and then make use of the resources that are available to you. Because I promise you there is someone in marketing at each and every tech platform who would be absolutely delighted to receive an email saying, hello, how do I get involved? So just make the most of those resources that are actually available to you. This is my closing second, last closing clause. So first of all, when I was saying earlier about how your employer really likes it if you do speaking because it can help them. The really big reason for that is because it helps to recruit people. If anyone would like a job at Black Book, there's a QR code to get to our Work with US page. Otherwise, just contact me on LinkedIn and I'll put you in touch through to our general manager for HR and things like that. This is how to get in contact with me. So my LinkedIn, my Twitter, my dad too is where I write lots of more technical articles. If I put the QR code here, it's my motivation to keep actually putting content there. And the same thing with my Tik Tok that I made less than a week ago if I put the link here, I'll be forced to keep looking. So that's my final closing slide. And now I'm excited to get into any questions, if there are any. Hey, Brooke. Yes, that was inspirational talk. There's so many takeaways here. I've got three pages of notes already. Yeah. I definitely need to learn a lot of your tricks here. Your formulas sound fantastic. Cool. So there are questions in the chat, so just call out from top to bottom here. The first one was from Lars. So his question is, how do you get over that first anxiety of being on stage? It's really hard, I think, thinking about all the ways that it can go wrong. As an anxious person, I would already do that. So I could hedge against them. So I already knew that it could go bad, and then I could just work out different ways to actually push through. I think that's really important as well, or just working out how you can get past it. The other side is that there's really good text to speech and speech to text things now. So before you had to practice your talk by talking to people, which I have no interest in. So you can record it on your voice notes, especially if you're walking your dog or something. You can just record it and then transcribe that using AWS or whatever. And then look at what it actually looks like because then you can see what you're saying without having to listen to your voice, which no one should be tortured with. And that will really help you to be more confident in what you're saying without having to torture yourself as much. When you do actually do it, you'll be so much more rehearsed. And one of those things that will make it more natural for you because you'll see about how you actually speak in your different. That sounds really good. I wish I did that. I remember my first public talk, very little preparation. It was just a win in cold and it hurt a fair bit. I was super nervous. And your voice changes. And only outgoing people give you tips. So they used to like, oh, just think confidently before listen to a peppy song. It's not helpful. Just do it. That's right. Wow. Look, there's another question from Tian. What's your number one mistake? You see first time speakers making all the time. I think when they try to be someone they've seen on YouTube or Netflix or Twitter or something, they're trying to be them, pretending to be Tony Robbins or something instead of just being them as themselves. One of the tech conference talks that I like going to the most, or when it's someone super technical, just absolutely living their truth, being themselves and just getting really nerdy on a subject that's a special interest topic or something. I love going to talks like that. I think lots of people do because they're super engaging because you can just tell the person is having the best time. And absolutely just getting into that mindset of how you can. That's why I was talking about being genuine, because it's how can you do it for you rather than what's your best Tony Robbins impersonation or something? Yeah. Now you mentioned that for sure. You can see it younger speakers when doing it, or first time speakers should say they would have role models and try and be like them. But I guess it's a lesson to learn that you should be yourself. It's much easier being yourself rather than just forcing yourself down a way of behavior that you're not really comfortable with. But good advice. Yeah, I noticed it a lot because lots of the speaker role models were all men. So as a young woman, I just didn't see myself doing any of that. So that's why I thought I couldn't be a speaker, because all of the tips just were completely not relevant to something I could see myself doing. So it's helpful. So much for that mindset as well, I think. I'm not sure it's like in Brisbane, but in Melbourne at least there's a lot of female meet up groups, a lot of tech female speakers, when we actually did a CFP for another conference as well, the number of women outweighed the number of men. So yes, it's changing. All the tools and all the resources that everyone needs is out there. So it's definitely good to see that change as well. Cool. Now let's see if there are any other questions. People have said that they've gone to the global CFP days, myself included. Went a couple of years ago. Very useful, like I say, and they teach you how to write your BIOS and be friendly. Don't use things like guys use other terms. Everyone be respectful. But I'll go back to one of my notes here. But the speaker bio, right. Do you think the length of your bio matters and exactly what you put in there, or is it more just again, like being yourself, being more important? I think putting the information in that you would be mad if they didn't know about you when you're applying for a conference is really good. And then that's why I sort of make mine in two chunks. So if they want a really quick one, it is there in a couple of sentences or they can add the longer part. And I think being able to move between both of those is really helpful because then you can just put the most important things at the start and then whatever they cut out at the bottom, you can live with or without. But it will make sure that you're being represented in the way that you want to be represented in that. Very cool. Also, the other trip is to look through loads of people on LinkedIn and see how they summarize their work and how they talk about it. There's so many people globally that you can sort of just pick and choose and see what you like and don't like. So it's one of those things that when you're being really observant, aside from looking at the agenda of conferences, look how speakers talk about themselves and see what you can see working for you or not working. That's definitely a good tip. Looking around at what other people do again, but don't just copy it. Right? Get some inspiration for yourself. You don't want to write a story about yourself Sounding like someone else. Another thing I noted down is that your actual formula that you set for your buyer. I've looked actually, I couldn't find a formula, but I like your formula. I think you definitely need to publish that somewhere and make it a bit more known. Very useful. Yeah. No one see how to do any of this stuff. That's right. It's hidden secret that apparently everyone who does it knows how to do it, but no one will tell anyone else about it. Like you're saying, the extroverted people when I started asking someone a question and they said I just wrote it down, this is what came to mind and I'm like, I'm going to try this. It didn't work. It took a long time to actually get one out. Another fantastic trip. It's sort of just more of the techy side of stuff about doing all this is to use PowerPoint to make your Twitter posts or your LinkedIn posts. Oh, yeah. Wow. I was using Photoshop. But that's a good tip Because what you can do is you can make the background in Photoshop And then just put the text on in PowerPoint. You can even do that if you're doing the sort of social image that gets attached to blog posts and stuff, just set it up. If you need to set a template for your whole website, you can do that in PowerPoint really fast and then if you set it up for any sort of social post is the same size. So you can just crank that through, Especially if it's information that gets repeated all the time, like your name and your job title. You can just copy it from the previous slide and then just export it as an image. It's not supposed to be for that, but it works really well. It does. I can see it happening. I'm going to try it out as well.