Under the Radar

51: Speaking at Conferences


00:00:00   Welcome to Under the Radar, a show about independent iOS app development.

00:00:03   I'm Marco Arment.

00:00:04   And I'm David Smith.

00:00:06   Under the Radar is never longer than 30 minutes, so let's get started.

00:00:08   So today we wanted to talk about speaking at conferences.

00:00:13   David and I have both done a lot of it.

00:00:14   David, you're right in the middle of two conferences now.

00:00:18   And we, a lot of developers, you know, both attend conferences and also many developers

00:00:24   are asked to speak at developer conferences.

00:00:27   And so there's certainly a lot of, I don't know, a lot of interest around this topic,

00:00:33   I'd say.

00:00:34   And we figure we go over like kind of what it's like to speak at a conference, why you

00:00:39   might want to, why you might not want to, the process involved, and kind of how to manage

00:00:44   it.

00:00:45   Does that seem reasonable?

00:00:46   Yeah, and I think it's a kind of thing that I remember being very intimidated by when

00:00:51   I was early in my career, when I was in the phase where I would really only ever attend

00:00:58   conferences, and I'd kind of go and I'd see these people do this thing up on a stage,

00:01:01   and it would feel very scary.

00:01:03   And my hope is that we can kind of make that a little less scary, or at least put some

00:01:08   handles on it for if you're someone who is trying to think about getting into this or

00:01:13   wanting to start doing conference speaking to make it a little bit less scary, because

00:01:18   it's not really as scary as it may sometimes feel.

00:01:22   Yeah.

00:01:23   And so, you know, first, let's assume that there's a conference that you either want

00:01:27   to submit a proposal to or that has asked you to speak, so assume basically that you're

00:01:31   in the planning process or the deciding process.

00:01:34   One thing to think about is like, is this the kind of thing you want to do, and what

00:01:39   are you looking to get out of it?

00:01:41   It is not a quick or easy process, it is not something you can just kind of blow off and

00:01:47   get on with your life.

00:01:48   It takes a lot of time to prepare for conference speaking, and I mean, I would say most of

00:01:53   my talks I'm probably preparing for maybe a week ahead of time, like a solid week, and

00:02:00   that might be spread out across more time spans, but it's about a week of work, I would

00:02:05   say, for a good talk.

00:02:07   Is that about it right for you?

00:02:08   I'd say so.

00:02:09   I mean, I think I probably spend typically two to three days just getting the talk like

00:02:16   I want it in terms of the structure and the slides and the overall kind of flow of it,

00:02:23   and then it's probably another couple of days where it starts to become more spread out,

00:02:27   but of just practicing of going through and doing it over and over again, and especially

00:02:32   depending on how long your conference slot is.

00:02:35   So sometimes I've done conference speaking where I'm only doing 15, 20-minute talks,

00:02:41   where rehearsal is a bit easier because doing a full run-through you can do pretty quickly,

00:02:45   but I've also done talks where it's 45 minutes to an hour, where then the rehearsal

00:02:50   schedule gets a little bit longer and more drawn out because if you want to do a single

00:02:54   run-through, it takes a full hour to do that run-through.

00:02:57   But overall, yeah, I'd say it's about a week if you want to do it well, and I think

00:03:03   that is something that I, when I was first, sort of, the first time I ever said yes to

00:03:09   doing a conference speech, I remember having no real concept of how long it was going to

00:03:14   take.

00:03:15   I was like, "Oh, you know, it's the kind of thing, maybe it's like I'll spend an

00:03:17   afternoon kind of putting it together," and how wrong I was about that I think is a

00:03:24   good thing to say, just because if you don't plan for it in that way and factor that in,

00:03:29   whether you can both afford the time for it and then if you actually just have the ability

00:03:34   to do it, it is definitely something that if you're not expecting it, it's easy

00:03:39   to imagine that the output only, in some ways it's even harder when you're just trying

00:03:44   to put together a 15-minute talk.

00:03:47   It seems like that should be really easy, but trying to have something that's concise

00:03:50   and to the point in that period of time takes way more effort than you'd probably even

00:03:56   imagine.

00:03:57   Yeah, I mean, one of the places I usually start is by writing out the bulk of what I'm

00:04:02   going to say, kind of like in an outline format that's kind of like an informal outline,

00:04:07   so it's kind of like halfway between an outline and a blog post, because the basis

00:04:13   of any good talk is some kind of coherent story that runs through it.

00:04:17   So a good talk should basically read like, if you read a transcription of it, it should

00:04:23   basically read like a good blog post, like a persuasive essay or a good story or something

00:04:28   like that.

00:04:29   And so it really helps a lot to write it out, even if you're not writing out exactly every

00:04:35   word you're going to say, just to at least write out a general overview that is readable

00:04:41   so that you can then treat it a little bit like a blog post as you're writing it and

00:04:45   be able to edit things, move things around, reframe things in ways that make more sense

00:04:50   as a coherent story.

00:04:51   Because if you don't do that, and I've had talks where I've done that, I've had

00:04:55   talks where I haven't done that.

00:04:57   The ones where I just opened up Keynote and just started making slides have always been

00:05:02   substantially worse.

00:05:04   The ones that I start out just as a presentation that way, just always worse.

00:05:10   My best talks, and I haven't done that many, but ultimately my good talks are the ones

00:05:15   where I have written it out basically as a blog post style of speaking and structurally

00:05:21   first, and then gone and made the slides from that point.

00:05:25   And this is all to say also that you should treat it not as this kind of full waterfall

00:05:32   process of you write it all out, then you make the slides, then you go give them.

00:05:37   All of my talks I have edited up until the night before I've given them.

00:05:41   Sometimes the same day I've given them I'm still editing them.

00:05:44   Because what you realize during rehearsal, which you should always rehearse your talks,

00:05:52   hopefully even more than once if you have the time before you give them.

00:05:56   Because rehearsing it by yourself, running through it, actually standing up with a clicker

00:06:01   and having your laptop in presentation mode, actually running through it as you would give

00:06:06   it, giving it to a room of nobody is incredibly valuable to get a sense for what works, how

00:06:13   it flows, how it doesn't flow, what parts you stumble over, what parts need to be rethought

00:06:19   or don't belong or break the rhythm or whatever else.

00:06:23   The rehearsal part of it is invaluable, and I highly, highly recommend that you never

00:06:29   give a talk that you have not rehearsed if it's this kind of format.

00:06:33   And we'll get to, I have some nitpicks about this format that I'll get to later, but

00:06:36   in the kind of traditional format of you have a person standing in front of a crowd with

00:06:40   a microphone and a presentation clicker going through a slide deck and talking, you need

00:06:44   to have rehearsed that.

00:06:45   Because otherwise, basically it shows if you haven't rehearsed it.

00:06:49   And it really helps to get out a lot of the problems that you kind of stand them away

00:06:55   if you go through some rehearsals and realize what doesn't work and edit what needs to

00:06:59   be edited.

00:07:00   Yeah, and I think too, what I find is most helpful when I'm preparing some of the talk,

00:07:04   I don't quite do the road that you do where you kind of outline it.

00:07:08   I tend to think it through in my head, and it's the kind of thing that once I sign

00:07:13   up for a talk, in the back of my mind for like a month, I'm kind of running through

00:07:18   this vague sense of what I want to accomplish.

00:07:20   And I think one of the key things that I've found is that if I can condense what I'm

00:07:26   trying to say to a few sentences or a one-minute kind of overview, I can kind of get this kernel

00:07:34   of like, "This is the thing that I want the audience to come away with."

00:07:39   And I can be very concise and specific about that.

00:07:42   I always find that's very helpful for me to prepare a compelling talk.

00:07:46   And as I go through my rehearsals, I can kind of judge if I'm going down any dead ends

00:07:52   or things that aren't connecting back to that main point.

00:08:00   I used to be really scared of public speaking, and a lot of that was coming from overemphasizing,

00:08:05   I think, the reaction that your audience is going to have to your talk, that you put all

00:08:11   this time and effort into it.

00:08:13   And initially, I used to think that everyone is going to be hanging on every word and really

00:08:18   thinking about it and internalizing it, but then I started to go to conferences and I

00:08:23   realized that what I leave with a talk is a general impression far more often than I

00:08:29   do a specific detailed understanding or analysis of what someone just said.

00:08:35   You kind of get this high-level, "Well, that's kind of what they were saying."

00:08:39   And what you want to do as you're preparing it, I feel like, is to make sure that that

00:08:43   impression that you're going to be leaving someone with is the actual impression that

00:08:47   you're trying to leave them with.

00:08:48   And so as you do it, if you have this core thesis that you can compare all of your slides

00:08:53   with, compare all of the little anecdotes or the lines of thinking you're doing towards,

00:08:58   I feel like that makes it a much more compelling thing because everything is just pointing

00:09:01   back to the same point over and over and over again.

00:09:05   When you're writing it or when you're thinking about what it will be like to give a conference

00:09:09   talk and maybe you're stressing out about it, one of the things that I read, I think

00:09:14   it was like there's that one book that everybody reads about giving presentations.

00:09:18   I've totally forgotten what it is.

00:09:22   I read the intro, basically, and that's it because I don't read very well.

00:09:27   But one of the things I learned from that, which is a very valuable lesson, is that if

00:09:33   you think about what people stress out about it, most of the time people are stressed out

00:09:38   with the prospect of giving the talk about what if I say "uh" or "um" too much

00:09:42   or I stumble over a sentence or I fumble something or I don't say something right.

00:09:48   And the reality is that if you've been to conferences, if you actually think about it

00:09:53   and actually pay attention to what people are saying word for word, take a little transcription

00:09:59   for a minute in your mind and you'll see that people on stage are constantly fumbling

00:10:03   over their words, are constantly saying "uh" or "um" or "like" and you are actually

00:10:09   auto-correcting that in your head as you're listening.

00:10:12   So it doesn't really matter at all.

00:10:14   That is not a kind of thing you need to worry about when you're doing that kind of public

00:10:19   speaking.

00:10:20   Basically, the room does not care if you say "uh" or "um."

00:10:23   They just don't care.

00:10:24   So that's not something you have to worry about.

00:10:26   And you're right that you also have to worry less about every single thing you're saying

00:10:30   being great or accurate or tied together because the room is going to have very different levels

00:10:35   of people paying attention.

00:10:36   Especially, you know, look around a tech conference.

00:10:39   Anybody you see with a laptop, they're not paying attention.

00:10:42   Anyone with a phone in their hand, they're not paying attention.

00:10:44   Anyone who's going to get a coffee or drink, they're not paying attention.

00:10:46   So you're talking to maybe a third of the room who's actually listening.

00:10:51   But where it can help to have a coherent story is to keep people's attention.

00:10:57   If you're kind of all over the place where there's some rough spots in the presentation

00:11:00   where you're throwing in stuff that didn't really need to be there or you're telling

00:11:04   someone a long convoluted story that doesn't really make sense or whatever else, you're

00:11:09   giving people opportunities to tune out.

00:11:12   And so if you can keep them engaged with something that's a little bit better rehearsed and

00:11:15   edited, more people will hear what you're trying to say.

00:11:19   And people who want to pay attention will have an easier time paying attention.

00:11:23   And I think it's also probably fair to say it's always better to run short than run

00:11:26   long.

00:11:27   Yes.

00:11:28   You know, I mean, obviously conference organizers, if you're somebody, they give you a slot,

00:11:31   you want to be respectful of, you know, if they say it's a half hour slot, don't show

00:11:35   up and do a 10-minute talk.

00:11:36   Like that probably wouldn't go well.

00:11:38   But on the flip side, if you have to go one way or the other, always run short.

00:11:42   No one's ever going to be like, oh, you know, it's like if you leave the audience

00:11:45   being like, oh, I wish you would just talk, I had talked for hours and hours, it's like,

00:11:49   you're doing great, don't worry about it.

00:11:51   But on the flip side, if someone's like, oh, why won't he, he's like, is he ever

00:11:54   going to finish?

00:11:55   Is this, like, where is this going?

00:11:57   That is far more problematic than being too short.

00:12:02   Exactly.

00:12:03   And then I guess the next thing to talk about is kind of like, if you're going to do one

00:12:06   of these talks, kind of the mechanics of like what should your presentation include, what

00:12:11   should it not include, how to do certain things.

00:12:14   I mean, number one that these presentations almost always include is slides.

00:12:19   You have some kind of slide deck, usually from Keynote or if you are in the Microsoft

00:12:23   world from PowerPoint, and you go through the slide deck and it can be like, you know,

00:12:28   meaningfully structured or whatever else.

00:12:30   It could be heavily designed.

00:12:32   It could be very bare bones.

00:12:35   It could be all pictures or all text or whatever else.

00:12:38   I would say from my experience making slides, there's always going to be other people

00:12:43   at the conference whose slides look way better than mine, and that will make me feel bad.

00:12:47   But the reality is that spending a lot of time on your slides, especially the kind of

00:12:52   conferences that listeners of the show would attend or be asked to speak at, you know,

00:12:56   a lot of like kind of nerdy ones, spending a ton of time on your slides is a massive

00:13:01   time sink that will never end and is probably not worth stressing too much out about.

00:13:07   Like I mean, one of my talks I gave at Singleton a few years back, I didn't even have slides

00:13:13   because I was like I had a bad experience with slides at a previous conference and I

00:13:16   said, "All right, next time I do one, no slides."

00:13:19   It was totally fine.

00:13:20   Like if you have like a good enough story to speak and you can keep people's attention

00:13:25   well enough by just the words, and it's a little bit harder, but it's possible, then

00:13:29   doing without slides is actually kind of freeing and wonderful.

00:13:33   But you know, if you're going to have slides, I would say, again, for the people listening

00:13:37   to this show doing like, you know, geeky and programming types of conferences, I would

00:13:42   say don't spend a whole lot of time trying to make them the most incredibly designed

00:13:48   slides ever.

00:13:49   Keep them very simple.

00:13:50   You know, don't put a lot of text on them.

00:13:51   Just keep it simple.

00:13:53   You know, single sentences or words, pictures if you have to show pictures, definitely don't

00:14:00   be reading off of them.

00:14:01   You know, simple stuff you can get from pretty much any, you know, guide on how to do good

00:14:05   presentations.

00:14:06   >> I think in many ways it reminds me of app design and the way that I have to approach

00:14:10   it myself where I always admire slide decks that are beautiful and really well put together

00:14:17   and really clever, but the reality is in the same way that I'm not really an app designer

00:14:22   and I can't make, like there's a certain kind of design that I love to look at in an app,

00:14:27   but I just can't do myself.

00:14:29   I understand that in the same way when I'm designing a keynote deck, I can't make it

00:14:34   look pretty in that way.

00:14:36   And so all of my, all of the presentations I think I've ever given, I open up keynote,

00:14:40   I choose the first template, which is a black background with white text.

00:14:45   >> That's very important, by the way, because if you, you know, at any conference you see,

00:14:49   like you see the problems when somebody has a white background, basically this is being

00:14:53   projected by a dim, crappy projector onto a gray wall or screens.

00:14:59   So like anything that has like a white edge, it's going to be all like, you know, this

00:15:03   blurry white edge and it's just going to look like a big square in the middle of the wall.

00:15:08   Whereas if you have a black background and white elements, then those elements seem like

00:15:14   they're floating in the middle of the wall.

00:15:16   You don't see the borders around it, basically, and that's why Apple's slide decks are always,

00:15:21   you know, like when they're presented things, it's always black backgrounds with things

00:15:24   just kind of floating in the middle.

00:15:25   That's why it looks better and it's easier to see for the people in the room.

00:15:29   >> Yeah, and then beyond that, I think like just like you said, it's being careful to,

00:15:34   for me, my slides are usually like a short phrase, like two or three words on each slide.

00:15:40   They're just there for emphasis.

00:15:41   They're not there to convey any information typically.

00:15:44   Like every now and then they'll have a slide that's, you know, it's like it's a graph or

00:15:48   it's a picture or a diagram where it's supposed to convey information.

00:15:51   But otherwise it's just, you know, essentially whatever sentence I'm saying right now, if

00:15:56   there's something I want to emphasize, it's on the slide behind me.

00:16:00   And it's kind of like, not like a transcript in that way, but it's if you just went through

00:16:05   and listened and looked at the slides, they're just there to emphasize things.

00:16:09   But the next thing I also wanted to mention too is it's the importance of if you actually

00:16:13   are doing this and you actually take the experience of doing it.

00:16:15   So you signed up, you've built this presentation, the actual experience of going and giving

00:16:20   a talk, some things to keep in mind.

00:16:23   One is you always want to, or ideally you'd always want to do it, not like a run through

00:16:30   in the venue, but you ideally will have your slides on the machine that they're going to

00:16:35   be run on.

00:16:36   You're going to want to have the clicker.

00:16:37   You want to stand on the stage and, you know, just hit next slide a few times, make sure

00:16:41   everything looks good, make sure you feel comfortable with where everything is.

00:16:44   Like the worst thing is if you just, you know, at the last minute hand somebody a zip drive,

00:16:50   which is kind of amusing, but in conferences or the only situation I can counter now where

00:16:55   I ever have to use like a little USB thumb drive, because that seems to be the universal

00:16:58   way of getting conference slides to the organizers.

00:17:02   But you hand that to somebody, like you don't want to be handing that to them the moment

00:17:06   before you step on stage, because who knows what's going to happen when they try and open

00:17:10   that keynote deck.

00:17:11   So you want to do a quick run through.

00:17:13   You want to kind of make sure everything's together.

00:17:15   And for me, at least I find too, that it helps, makes me a little less nervous if I, it's

00:17:19   like if the, all of the practical logistic parts are taken care of, that I know, I know

00:17:25   where I'm going to be, I know what I'm going to hold in my hand, what kind of microphone

00:17:29   it's going to be, for example.

00:17:31   Like it makes a big difference in terms of if you are going to have a handheld microphone,

00:17:37   where you're going to have to be aware of keeping that in this, you know, in a constant

00:17:39   place where your mouth is.

00:17:41   If it's a lapel microphone, where you have to be careful of how you move your shoulders,

00:17:44   because if you have a lapel microphone, sometimes you need to be careful that you don't turn

00:17:48   your head the opposite direction of your shoulders, where suddenly you can, you know, your voice

00:17:54   starts to fall off from the microphone.

00:17:56   Or if it's the really cool ones, the ones that kind of like stick out of your ear and

00:18:00   come down, where you can have a bit more flexibility.

00:18:02   But it's a good thing to run through that.

00:18:04   And in my experience, if you ask an organizer, "Hey, I'd love to do a quick run through of

00:18:10   my slides.

00:18:11   Like, I want to be more prepared," I very rarely will you encounter an organizer who's

00:18:15   like, "No, no, no, you know, we can't do that."

00:18:18   Like their goal is for you to do well.

00:18:20   And so it's always a good idea to try and do that.

00:18:23   Do a quick run through.

00:18:24   Make sure you feel comfortable in the space and are confident that everything's going

00:18:28   to work.

00:18:29   And so you don't have those things weighing on you as you're getting ready to actually

00:18:32   do it.

00:18:33   All right, so now we're going to talk about basically, you know, things like is it worth

00:18:38   doing conference speaking and why you might want to in the format, etc.

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00:20:18   We've basically talked so far about if you want to do conference speaking, some general

00:20:22   tips and pointers, as much as we can fit into 18 minutes, of how to do it, how to write,

00:20:28   and how to do some technical sides of it.

00:20:31   I want to talk a little bit about, though, reasons why you might want to do this at all,

00:20:35   and reasons why you might not want to do this at all.

00:20:39   If you get to any level of notability in a field, especially in the tech field, you are

00:20:45   likely to be asked to speak at some kind of event or conference.

00:20:52   In our little world of app and tech people, we have lots of conferences, big and small.

00:20:57   Many of them are more commercially run, where the speakers are getting paid a substantial

00:21:03   amount and the tickets cost a lot of money, and they're usually larger, and they usually

00:21:08   appeal to wider markets, like a Java conference or whatever.

00:21:12   And then you have a lot of these smaller indie ones that I think the iOS world has more of

00:21:18   those, typically, where you have smaller budgets, oftentimes the speakers are not getting paid

00:21:23   either at all, or they might have their travel expenses and ticket covered, but no additional

00:21:29   money after that, or some small amount, like under $2,000, say.

00:21:33   Obviously it varies for you whether that's considered a small amount, but something in

00:21:37   that range.

00:21:40   You can look at whether to do this as, basically, if you're going to be a professional conference

00:21:47   speaker, if you want to speak for money, if the money is what drives you here, you really

00:21:53   need to be doing it a lot.

00:21:55   And that's why people who speak on conference circuits, they tend to make a small number

00:22:00   of talks and give each one a high number of times.

00:22:03   Sometimes they'll give the same talk all around the country or all around the world at different

00:22:06   events for a whole year, because that's their business.

00:22:10   They make one amazing talk that is applicable to a wide audience in a certain industry,

00:22:14   and they go around the world and they get paid good money, because effectively that's

00:22:19   their full-time job, or that is most of their job.

00:22:23   Maybe they use that to build credibility to sell more books, or they write books to increase

00:22:27   their speaking fees.

00:22:30   That is a whole career, and if you want to do that, that is a very different career than

00:22:35   being a software developer.

00:22:36   That might be well-suited to you, but you have to decide whether that's the kind of

00:22:40   career that you want and all the things that come along with it, like a lot of travel,

00:22:44   things like that.

00:22:47   If that's not your goal, if your goal is simply to speak at a conference because it

00:22:52   might be fun, or you want to attend that conference, and that's an easy way to attend it, or

00:22:58   you want to promote something that you're doing, like an app you're making, that's

00:23:01   a very different job.

00:23:04   In that kind of case, whether or how much you're being paid is way less important,

00:23:09   because chances are whatever they're going to offer you is not going to be worth the

00:23:13   week-plus of work that you're going to lose by agreeing to do this, not to mention the

00:23:19   value of whatever stress it might put you through.

00:23:23   The money part of it, I think, is almost irrelevant for most people who are in our kind of business,

00:23:27   because it's not going to be enough money where the money is going to matter to you,

00:23:33   in all likelihood.

00:23:35   I would say ignore the money part of it, and really think about, "Do I want to do this

00:23:40   to promote something, or to give back to a conference I've loved for years, or to just

00:23:46   get better at public speaking, or whatever else?"

00:23:49   And that's a very different question.

00:23:52   To me, I've actually decided over the last couple years that it is almost never worth

00:23:57   doing it for me, because I get so much stress about it, and I lose so much time to it, and

00:24:03   that even when I go to a conference to speak at it, I end up not really able to enjoy that

00:24:08   conference until my talk is over, which is often at least halfway through it.

00:24:14   All the fun socializing and things that happened before my talk, I basically don't enjoy,

00:24:20   or don't even get to attend.

00:24:22   I have recently found that I would rather just do podcasts and occasional blog posts

00:24:28   to get my message out, and hardly ever speak at conferences, and then just attend conferences

00:24:32   because I enjoy them, and that way I'm able to enjoy them, rather than really do a lot

00:24:36   of talks, and that's why I do almost no talks anymore.

00:24:39   What do you think?

00:24:41   I think there's a tricky balance, and I think for sure you're right in the sense that

00:24:45   I don't do conferences for financial reasons.

00:24:49   They're definitely a loss, part of my professional career at this point, and going down the route

00:24:55   of trying to do it more professionally, where you would actually get reasonable speaking

00:24:58   fees and things, it's just a whole other world that I don't really have much interest

00:25:01   in.

00:25:03   I think when I was starting out, and I had the first time a conference organizer reached

00:25:07   out to me and said, "Hey, I think you'd be a good fit for this conference," I remember

00:25:12   I wanted to do it mostly just so that I would have done it.

00:25:18   And not in a "Oh, look at me, I've done it" kind of thing, but to eliminate the fear

00:25:24   of it.

00:25:26   I think public speaking is one of the things that it's so easy to get scared of, to really

00:25:31   have genuine, honest fear about, but the only way you can really get over that is to work

00:25:37   on it and try it, and if you're well-prepared, it's less scary than you might expect.

00:25:43   And largely, I do conference speaking now just for the purpose of practicing and developing

00:25:48   that skill to make it easier and better for myself down the road, to give myself opportunities

00:25:55   that I may not otherwise have to speak at.

00:25:58   There are some conferences that I would have always wanted to go to, for example, and you

00:26:03   kind of have the goal of, "Well, maybe one day I could get to speak at that," and the

00:26:07   only way you're going to be good enough to do that is if you have practiced.

00:26:12   And one thing I will say is a nice way to start out, if you're trying to feel this out

00:26:18   for yourself, is it something that's worth it for you, is it something that you'd like

00:26:21   to do, is to start small.

00:26:24   And there's a lot of conferences that are small, like really, I think of like CocoaConf as

00:26:30   an example of this, where it's a relatively small, multi-track conference that is probably

00:26:34   able, anyone who's able to put in some preparation could probably speak at.

00:26:40   Or another example is a lot of user groups.

00:26:42   While conference speaking is a bit more sophisticated, a lot of local user groups will have monthly

00:26:49   things where someone gets up and talks for 10 minutes, 20 minutes about something cool

00:26:52   they're working on.

00:26:53   They'll kind of get a feel for it.

00:26:54   But it is a tricky question to say, "Is it worth it?"

00:26:58   Because I think it's something that you typically are doing for reasons other than strictly

00:27:04   rational reasons.

00:27:06   For me, a lot of it's about conquering a fear and being comfortable doing this so that I

00:27:11   don't have this part of my professional skill set that I feel like isn't there.

00:27:19   Because while the nature of being an independent developer and doing work largely by myself

00:27:24   is not that I need to keep working, I have tremendous communication skills, but I would

00:27:29   feel bad about letting those skills just sort of fall waste.

00:27:34   And so overall, I think it is a tricky thing to find that balance.

00:27:38   And I think it is very important to understand that it is a huge cost and sink in terms of

00:27:43   time that it—all said and done, I'm speaking at OOL this year, and that is a conference

00:27:50   that's in Ireland.

00:27:51   So in addition to roughly maybe a week's worth of prep, I'm also going to be flying

00:27:56   somewhere and dealing with jet lag and then dealing with jet lag on the way back.

00:28:00   In many ways, we had these similar conversations when we were talking about going to WWDC, like

00:28:04   is it worth it to go to that, where you can kind of get a lot of the feeling of it without

00:28:10   actually going, you can get a lot of the information, but there's something different about actually

00:28:15   going.

00:28:16   And for me, conference speaking is a great way to kind of get myself to go to more conferences,

00:28:21   because I feel it's a hard thing to sometimes decide, "Oh, do I want to pay to travel,

00:28:26   do I want to pay to buy a ticket and be away from my family to attend?"

00:28:29   It makes it a little bit easier where I feel like I'm accomplishing something by doing

00:28:34   that, that I'm getting better at speaking as a result, and typically it's helpful

00:28:37   that they pay for the accommodation, the travel, and the ticket.

00:28:41   But there's definitely a balance to be struck there between, "Am I getting enough out

00:28:46   of it?"

00:28:47   And the nice thing about conference speaking is, if you really want to do it and pursue

00:28:50   it a lot, you can probably find opportunities to do that.

00:28:53   If you only want to do it one or two times, you can probably find a way to do that too.

00:28:57   Like it's easily scalable up and down between the two extremes.

00:29:02   Yeah, and to close this out, because we're out of time now, I think I would say if you're

00:29:07   on the fence about whether to speak at a conference, reasons that you don't need to worry about

00:29:12   are things like, "What if I'm terrible at it?

00:29:14   What if people laugh at me?"

00:29:16   That doesn't really happen in this community.

00:29:19   That literally never happens.

00:29:21   So you don't have to worry about that.

00:29:22   I think what you mainly have to worry about is, "Is it worth it to me?"

00:29:26   And if you've never done it before, it's a good reason to just do it.

00:29:30   Just try it, just to find out if it's worth it for you.

00:29:32   You might find that you love it.

00:29:33   You might find that you hate it.

00:29:35   But if you have the opportunity to try it, try it, and then decide from there.

00:29:40   Exactly.

00:29:41   And I think that's the right way to think about it.

00:29:43   Just keep an open mind to it, and it's an important thing to just try.

00:29:48   And if it doesn't work, that's no problem.

00:29:50   But you've learned something about yourself in the process.

00:29:53   All right, thanks everybody for listening, and we'll talk to you next week.

00:29:56   Bye.