Back to articles

Preparing my first talk

This year I set myself a few goals, one of which was to do more public speaking. I’m not sure anyone is really a natural public speaker, especially not me, but I do think it is a skill that can be developed.

Sharing knowledge is one of the greatest aspects of developer communities.

It is one of the main reasons I help run frontend North East, I think it is important that people have space to connect and share their experiences and knowledge.

You can see my lovely slides here.

Back in January I saw this tweet from LeedsJS

We have short (~25 mins) and main (40+ mins) talk slots available for later in the year. Got an idea? Give us a shout!

— LeedsJS (@LeedsJS) January 23, 2017

Over the past few months I’d been slowly writing blog posts about testing in JavaScript (unit, integration, Jest currently missing acceptance testing, accessibility and a couple of others) this seemed like a natural fit to give a talk on, thankfully they did too.

Slide number 2 : Hello


Testing isn’t the most glamours of topics, so it was quite difficult to come up with a really good talk title.

I hadn’t really planned to do a JavaScript testing talk it was more general ‘Adventures in front-end testing’ was originally what I was working towards. I ended up with ‘Testing most things in JavaScript’.

Content & Design

As I said above I already had a lot of the content for a talk, with code examples, but trying to work out how to condense it and the flow was really difficult.

I made a high-level story map of all the topics and then started moving them till they made a logical sense. These where one word per slide, I then fitted in code examples around these.

I’ll be the first to admit — I am no designer, I used “A white-label slide deck” by Alice Bartlett and Deckset to make my slides. Having slides in markdown really helped me keep them clean and to the point.

Practice, Practice, Practice

I had hoped to give my talk internally as a dry run but that never really worked out, so instead, I recorded the talk. The main reasons I did this was to work out timing, try and correct any ticks, learn the running order, add any reminder notes and allow me to re-work any content that didn’t flow.

My first run through was around 24 mins, what struck me most about watching the video was a number of times I said “um” and “like” this was largely at the start until I got into a natural rhythm, the second time I practiced I made an effort, not to do this.

I slowed myself down and giving myself more space to breathe. I also moved around a few of the sections to give the overall presentation a better flow.

After thoughts…

Before the talk I was nervous but also excited, I took great satisfaction in being able to give it. The advice I got form some friends and the practice helped me deal with a lot of the nerves. I also think sometimes I need to push myself outside of my comfort zone.

One the way home I weighed up some good points and bad points. Most of them were to do with timing and the depth that I went into certain parts of the talk for example — test driven development, acceptance testing. These could really be their own talks.

If you feel like letting me talk at an event you run then get in touch, or if you fancy speaking at an event checkout

orginally published on medium.