Senior Software Developer, Jack Merideth was selected as a speaker at Stir Trek in 2019. He recaps his experience as a first-time speaker himself, and shares some of his favorite talks in this blog post.
“Thank you 10.”
The audience is filtering in. My lavalier microphone is hooked up and on. I won’t be touching it until I’m done, I trust the techs to keep an eye on it. I take a deep breath, psyching myself up before it’s my cue, reciting some paragraphs I want to make sure I nail in my head.
This isn’t some theatrical production, though we were in a theatre. This is Stir Trek, a tech conference hosted in the Columbus, Ohio area. I was fortunate enough to be selected as a speaker. I am talking about a topic that I am passionate about, accessibility. I do hope that passion touches everyone in attendance so they take back the idea of accessibility, and start implementing accessible code in their work.
“Thank you 5.”
I am grateful for the techs I have supporting me. The call and response bring a familiarity from my time in theatre during college; a familiarity that helps me relax and remind myself that I’ve been on stage before, and I’ll have speaker notes to help out this time so forgetting a line isn’t a concern. Having that comfort and relaxation will help with “ums” I hope.
I feel a little confident in my presentation, well matured from when I had initially wrote it up. Stir Trek was kind enough to provide complimentary speaker coaching to all speakers, one that I took them up on. It was thanks to that coaching that my presentation went through rewrite after rewrite after rewrite. No longer is it the unfocused ramblings of someone who is passionate, but it’s now focused, and hopefully clear to those watching. You can view the presentation on Stir Trek’s youtube channel.
Stir Trek as a conference is quite casual, partially from taking place in a theatre with the option to stay after to watch a movie, this year’s is Avengers: End Game. The presentations themselves vary greatly: from DevOps to surveying; from system architecture to health; and from testing automation to web accessibility. With such a breadth of presentations, it was difficult to select which ones to go to. I ultimately enjoyed Cassandra Faris’s talk on health and Ben Burgett’s talk on technical storytelling the most out of all of them, but Stir Trek has a playlist of all of the talks available.
Cassandra was on the same speaker coaching group that I was in so it was on my radar. She goes through her own experiences of health both physical and mental, and goes over how it can affect anyone, both in their personal life and work life. I highly recommend it to anyone, and health can affect anyone at any time.
Ben’s talk was a little more spontaneous of a selection but was amazing. Talks should have ranged 45 to 55 minutes; his clocked in around 30 minutes but you didn’t care at that point since his point was across, and he had sold you on it. Fittingly, Ben was talking about getting your technical ideas across and adopted by your audience. Fantastic for team leads, sales, and managers.
With Stir Trek being only around 2 hours away from Cincinnati, I would not mind going back and seeing the next variety of talks and possibly speaking for them again.