Some thoughts on starting to give talks a year ago

One challenge always, in giving a technical talk that is of limited length (in this case, no more than an hour long), is that of how to be helpful to an audience of mixed background knowledge, and in particular, when planning a talk that is geared toward giving an accurate and appealing taste of the gist of some ideas.

I started giving talks only last year, and I have been learning more and more about how difficult the task is to reach people, to be helpful in giving an introduction, a survey, that aims to help them solve problems in their life. In my opinion, that is the only valid reason for me to give a talk. I don’t do this because I greatly enjoy it (in fact, I used to be petrified of public speaking, and I’m still quite a nervous novice about it), and I don’t do it because I want to be a showoff who spews information that nobody can either understand or use. I think about the talks that I go to (quite a few) and which of them I took something from (and sometimes very profoundly change how I live my life and work practices), and which left me cold, and I am trying to turn that around and somehow “give back” in a similar way. This is a role I have not taken in the past, but I have been truly inspired by the example of people in the local Pittsburgh programming communities.

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