How to prepare and write a tech conference talk

Why I’m writing this post

A few weeks ago, @Charlotteis asked on Twitter about resources for preparing / giving conference talks. Their tweet reminded me that I had meant to write down my process for a very long time. So here it is. I’m planning to write two posts about this topic – this first one will focus on preparation of talks (so basically everything that happens before I pack my bags to travel to the event). I’ll write about everything related with actually giving the talk in the 2nd post. 

Also: you can invite me to speak at your event. Topics I speak about include tech and Open Source culture, communities, diversity and inclusion, mental health and empathy. And I have a few open speaking slots in 2016 left. I’m also available for hire. But now, to our topic.

Almost two years ago, I gave my first talk at a frontend meetup, and, a few weeks later, spoke at my first tech conference. Since then, I have given six talks and three keynotes at tech conferences around Europe. I’ve also been parts of the orga teams of two conferences and have been part of committees that did the first blind-selection round of proposals.

There are a few things which frame my experience and capabilities in preparing and giving conf talks:

  1. I’m an introvert.
  2. I really love public speaking. But I get ~extremely~ nervous beforehand (more on that and how I (try to) deal with it in part 2).
  3. I’m not a software developer. With one exception, my talks are usually not technical, meaning that they usually center around human-related topics. This also means that there are some things you may be confronted with that I don’t have to deal with, like working demos, displaying code samples, or similar.
  4. Also, I’m a white, cis, able-bodied woman who doesn’t have to do care work, so I usually have more or less enough time on hand for my preparation. 

Given this, some of the things I outline here may not work for you. But hopefully, there are a few useful tips in there that come in handy for you. I’ve added a bunch of links to more resources at the end of each section. There are also several speakers that have inspired me and that I’ve learned from. If you have more useful tips or resources, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or get in touch!


This post has now turned out much, much longer than I had planned. So here’s a brief table of contents in an attempt to give you an overview. To skip the overview and get right into the post, click hereContinue reading “How to prepare and write a tech conference talk”