In today’s society, you can’t just give a talk. By that I mean you can’t just stand up on your bus ride into work and start blabbing about whatever you want to talk about. By that I mean you will probably get arrested, because you will Stick Out, and society doesn’t like People That Stick Out.
Instead, try knocking out the bus driver, stealing the bus, and driving it to a secluded section of the woods. Then it becomes a private gathering and it is okay to talk to the passengers at great lengths because you have stolen their only means of transportation away from them.
Barring your desire to acquire another felony on your record, you might want to try another couple of options.
Finding a meetup
Never spoken before? If you’re in the tech industry, you might want to try your local meetup groups. This is great for a few reasons:
- Smaller. Compared to a conference, meetups are typically much smaller and shorter in duration. Might ease your nerves a bit.
- Friendlier. It’s your local community! They’re probably not jerks, otherwise they wouldn’t be living in your nice cozy town! Meetups are usually nice places to get your toes wet.
Meetup.com is probably your best bet in finding meetup groups in your area. At some point, try talking to the organizer and offering to share your knowledge. (You might want to go for a few months first so you can meet people and get to know the meetup group. Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet!)
Finding a conference
Conferences are a lot of fun, particularly if they’re in distant, romantic cities (or Detroit).
Not sure which conference you’re interested in? Check out Lanyrd — it’s got the best assortment of conferences out there. Once you find an upcoming conference that you’re interested in, you’ll probably want to fill out a CFP (Call for Papers).
Didn’t get accepted at the conference of your choice? That’s great, because many conferences will do lightning talks, which are short five-minute hard-limit talks by anyone in the audience. Giving a lightning talk is a fantastic way to get started with public speaking. Even if you freeze up and the whole thing is a disaster, it’s only five minutes long and people are sort of expecting failure anyway (most lightning talks are conceived, created, and delivered the same day).
There are a lot of interesting opportunities out there beyond just conferences and meetups, too. Here’s a few good resources that’ll help you get started:
- For women in tech: @callbackwomen. A slew of tweets from programming conferences looking for women (and everyone!) to talk at their event.
- Lanyrd’s CFP section has a lot of great conferences that are looking for speakers.
- Call to Speakers is another great option of technical conferences looking for speakers.
(If you know any more, please shoot me an email and I’d love to get it listed here.)