I really enjoy getting to meet speakers all over the world. There’s something unifying about knowing that technologists from every corner of the globe can meet together to offer their tips and thoughts to others, and Vincenzo mentioned a similar appreciation in his interview here. As a speaker, he’s gotten to travel across the world to give talks on a variety of topics. Vincenzo’s approach to coming up with new talk ideas is also really interesting.
Tell me about yourself. How did you get into public speaking?
What do you like about speaking at conferences?
The ability to travel and see new places. I think I’ve been able to go on all the continents just because of the speaking engagements I had, which would have been impossible otherwise.
Second? Networking with speakers; I met some of my best contacts I have in the space because of the conferences, and I even ended up organising a conference because of some people I met in Paris last year. You never know who you’re talking to — and you can be surprised. Curiously enough, the content is really the last reason I’d go to a conference.
What topics do you typically speak about?
I have always refused to present basic-level stuff that you can easily find on the web (tutorials and documentation) or even worse marked products for the company I work for. So every 8-10 months I do kind of a retrospective of what I’ve been working on and if I see a fit for an interesting talk (such as something that you don’t exactly do everyday, something that has never been treated elsewhere) — I put up an abstract and a title and try to submit it around.
Sometimes the topic is appreciated, but most of the times it is not. My point is — I want to share experiences, not technical documents in an oral form.
Do you remember your first conference talk? How did it go?
I totally remember it. It was in 2015 at the mDevCamp and I was asked to replace a colleague that couldn’t make it. I was in an horrible condition (I had fever) and it was at the very last moment. I didn’t want to leave the company unrepresented to I took the bet and had the presentation anyway.
I must say, my English has improved since then, I promise.
”Building resilient API client” by Vincenzo Chianese at mDevCamp
How many conferences have you applied to and spoken at?
In general, I apply to everything that makes sense, no matter the location or the timing of the year; that’s something I prefer to figure out later. Although I had a lot of speaking engagements, I still get rejected by default by most of the events. Some conference organisers that I met personally saw that I usually bring solid topics and so they were kind enough to invite me back. Anyway, I think my ratio is 1/5 (every 5 submissions, one goes through and gets accepted). You can do the math.
What advice do you have for new speakers?
I found myself in the world of the conferences accidentally and I had basically no training. Here are some things I wish I would have done before doing this serially and seriously:
Find a local Meetup in your native language. You need to get confident in front of the crowd and the meet-ups are perfect: low expectations, willingness to listen from the audience and the “even-if-everything-fails-nothing-happens” guarantee that will make you feel comfortable. Rinse and repeat 2-3 times.
Find a meetup in English, and try the same talk. You will probably have to pay for your own flight (although a lot of meetups in Europe give talks in English anyway), but it’s an investment, so totally worth it.
Time to apply to a conference.
Where can readers find more about you?
Technology conference speakers come from a wide range of backgrounds, experience levels, and interests. At CFP Land, we highlight different speakers every week in our Speaker’s Story blog posts. If you’re a tech conference speaker, email [email protected] to tell your story. 💌