Who am I to give this talk?

09 Jan 2017

Mariatta Wijaya tweeted

tonight, asking how to get over the feeling that you are not qualified to give a talk you have an idea for. You can read other answers by following the tweet thread. Here are some of my thoughts.

How am I qualified to give a talk on a topic?

  • You’ll spend dozens of hours preparing for your talk. By that time you’ll be enough of an expert to have something to say to people who haven’t spent this time.

  • “One user’s experience with X” is useful to the library author and authors of other libraries as well as potential users of the library.

  • If it’s an introductory talk, then organization, presentation, and pedagogy will be more important than expertise.

Why should I give a talk about a library instead of the library author?

  • The library author might not be attending this conference, or be too busy to prepare and give this talk.

  • The library author might not enjoy public speaking as much as you.

  • The library author might prefer to give a talk about something else.

  • The library author would probably love to hear someone else say that their project is useful instead of marketing it themselves.

  • The library author might prefer to give a more advanced talk about their library, or talk about lessons learned from its implementation.

  • The library author might prefer to give an overview of several libraries, leaving the specifics of their library to you.

  • If the author and you both submit great talk proposals that are very similar, the author’s talk will probably be chosen instead of yours. You aren’t preventing the author from speaking about their library.

  • It might be difficult for the library author to give an introductory talk without assuming problem domain knowledge.