So you want to speak? Stop doing these 5 things.

A few patterns consistently emerge after a decade of running Call for Speakers for THAT and reading over 10k abstracts. Here are my top 5 and what you should do to improve your speaking game.

#1 - Hey Clark, what are people looking to learn?

Another version of this question is: "Hey Clark, what do you want me to speak on?" I understand why this comes about, but we’re not interested in telling you what to talk about as much as we are about you talking about the thing you’re so passionate about you’re losing sleep over it. THAT Conference is a polyglot conference, which means anything related to software development. That's a lot of stuff.

Rather than ask us what the geeks want, ask the geeks directly. Jump in the Slack #sessions channel, drop your ideas, and ask folks to give you feedback. These are the folks who would be considering attending your session. You might be surprised at how your ideas evolve.

#2 - How to get started with a buzzword.

Stop hiding your awesome behind the buzzwords. It’s easy to accidentally add a dash of buzzword salad to your abstract, losing track of the core value of why geeks should attend. Buzzwords don’t inherently give you credibility, and your abstract should detail the value of why someone should consider attending.

#3 - I can’t talk about buzzwords because I’m not as good as that other geek.

It doesn’t matter who’s claiming they’re the expert in the said buzzword. The reality is we all have unique experiences that can help others. No two products are built the same. One way to get over your imposter syndrome is to seek feedback and mentorship from others.

#4 - The session is either too limited or way too much.

Sixty minutes is all you have. If your session includes ten bullet points of topics you want to cover, ask yourself how much time you can dedicate to each item. Are you doing it the justice it deserves? Sixty minutes goes fast; you should use that time to dive deeper into fewer items.

#5 - Losing track of your core value.

The tech is the topic that joins everyone together, but you’re the star. Don’t lose sight of the value you bring to the community. Your experiences are as meaningful as the tech itself, maybe even more critical. Make sure you’re bringing more than what someone could find online themselves.