I’ve never been particularly good at public speaking unless I am extremely passionate about the topic, or I’ve rehearsed my talk dozens of times. Even with rehearsal or passion, I’m not “good”, I just have less fear so I feel as if I’ve done a better job than if I was more fearful.
For me and my career, the most common venue for public speaking is during a meeting or presentation with a client. These client/customer meetings are generally easier for me due to my belief in my skills, abilities, or the product I’m effectively selling. Being able to stand behind and stake my reputation on something has been a terrific motivator and driving force behind where I’m at in my career today, but doing this as a speaker at a tech conference seems significantly more difficult. Most of the tech I have either passion for or belief in, or both (and that I would be qualified to speak about), are things I have not had any hand in creating. That lack of ownership made it difficult for me to justify to myself that I am even qualified to speak about or stand behind said tech. The other way I’d justify things is if I was bringing something new to the table about a topic, and previously all of the items I had wanted to talk about were already being covered in some way by pretty well-established speakers.
I finally overcame my own ridiculous self-doubt/mildly ridiculous justifications and submitted a talk entitled:
PHP misses you.
I’m 100% happy with this, regardless of the possibility of it being accepted or not.
The talk revolves around the idea that PHP has changed a lot and was spurred by a random conversation I had with someone about PHP at CodeMash 2014. I can’t recall the exact statement, but the person I was having the conversation with (honestly) posed a question that went something like:
“Oh, PHP – are they still doing releases of that?”
Yes, they are, and things are getting better finally. My potential talk would showcase lots of recent work that has gone on in PHP like closures, functional and object-oriented code, asynchronous, event-driven and non-blocking I/O, generators, iterators, and more neat things you can quickly use to get stuff done in PHP. It seems as though with this talk that I should be able to bring something new to the table for most attendees (though some pieces of my talk may be old hat to frequent PHP developers).
I realize I made the “mistake” of only submitting one talk. Most frequent speakers seem to acknowledge some sort of common knowledge that if you want to get accepted you should submit as many talks as you’re qualified for. I realize this is probably a more strict requirement for someone that they have to pay travel expenses for, but I live in the area of the conference I submitted my talk to so maybe my lack of multiple submissions will be overlooked.
I am excited and happy that I am taking steps forward to rectify some self-doubt and grow myself and my career further. I hope that this marks the beginning of another chapter in my life at the ending of which I’m amazed at the result and how I arrived.