We love it when our alumni are engaged in the Nashville development community. Today we’re launching a new blog series that focuses on community engagement. We call it In The Community. We start with Matt Hamil, a Cohort 15 graduate, who shares his experience presenting at NashReact and Nashville Women Programmers meetups.
-The NSS Team
My cohort and I attended the Nodevember conference hosted at Lipscomb University in November. Like most techies, I was lurking Twitter and following anyone tweeting with a #nodevember hashtag. One of the developers I followed happened to be a React developer in town. I met up with him for coffee, and he told me about the NashReact meetup. I mentioned that I was using React in my final project at Nashville Software School. He said I should give a talk about something at the meetup. They were struggling to find speakers, and I thought why not. He got me connected with the organizer for NashReact.
How to Decide on a Presentation Topic
As I was building my final capstone project, I found myself really enjoying a library I was using called styled-component. I reached out to the library author on Twitter, Max Stoiber, and he was very helpful. He sent a few links to talks he gave on the library and a slide deck for reference.
How to Prepare for the Presentation
I spent about a week on the talk. I focused on trying to answer the questions that developers typically have when presented with a new library: Why should I use this? What are the trade offs? How does this compare to X?
It is extremely important to talk about the trade offs when talking about a specific way to do something in code because coding is all about trade offs. Nobody wants to hear a talk that bashes another library for the sake of bashing it.
My talk at NashReact landed me an opportunity to give the same talk at the Nashville Women Programmers meetup. The first talk helped me refine and tailor a lot of what I thought would be relevant for the second time around.
Just Do It…Give A Talk
My advice to those who are considering giving a talk: Just do it. Everyone has their own pain points that they’ve experienced while coding, and everyone has also overcome those difficult moments in code. Those are great opportunities to say, “Hey, I had this problem. Maybe someone else has had the same or similar problem?” Even if you might think that you are not a “good coder” (whatever that means), you are still qualified to give a talk. If (and when) you do give a talk, ask for honest feedback. I focused a lot of my time on writing the content for my talk, and I wish that I had focused the same time (if not more) on delivery.
It’s also a really great feeling when developers that you look up to in the community say that you did a good job. It’s never too early (or late) to give back to this wonderful community.