Recently I’ve had the amazing opportunity to present in none other that Selenium conference in India. Even though I have done some other talks in the past, this was a big challenge.
I would like to share my experience, for those lynx curious about talking in or attending to conferences.
1) Submitting proposals:
The power of a deadline can sometimes be very impressive…at least for me.
I was keeping a couple of proposals for things I wanted to share for quite a while, always postponing to actually sit down and properly write them.
However, when I received a message stating that the last call for proposals for the selenium conference was in a couple of days, I told to myself: “hey, nothing to lose, just write them down and send them on before is too late. Let’s just get out of our comfort zone!”
2) Getting accepted and preparing for the conference:
After submitting the ideas, I’ve gotten contacted for one of my proposal asking for more details. There was some exchange of communications and after that…silence… nothing. I’ve gotten no idea if they were happy with my replies at all.
A few days later, I received an email. Bad news: my proposal was not accepted. I was shocked, after so many messages, I thought they would have been interested on it. Luckily they provided a rejection reason: “We’ve already accepted another proposals from the same speaker”.
Really?? I suddenly remembered: I did send two proposals. And right after that, I realised I was accepted to speak in THE selenium conference… and I started to freak out. What now?
I took a deep breath.
I reviewed the published list of speakers and then I realised that I had the pleasure of having met one of them before: Maaret Pyhajarvi. I brace myself, took all my courage and decided that if I was going to speak in the conference, I should be able to reach out for help.
I was very lucky that she was very nice and helpful. We arranged some online meetings (which was not easy because of the time difference) and she gave me plenty of valuable advice. I’m so happy that I asked Maaret for help and so grateful for her advice. I highly recommend that you watch her presentation and lightning talks, they were absolutely brilliant and inspiring.
OK, what else can I do to prepare for the day? (Besides planning and creating the slides and content, which is easier said than done)
As I was talking about virtual reality, I thought it was only fair to create an app for practising. So I asked the organisers for some pictures of the room I would present on and I created it on VR, even adding some original murmuring sounds. If you are interested, it’s uploaded here.
3) Travelling to India. Getting around. Impressions:
One of the reasons for me to apply for the selenium conference in India was that I was, at the time, located in China, so it was very close. I didn’t need many days off, the trip is shorter and it also was fully covered by the conference. Also, I’ve never been in India, great excuse to visit it!
I was told to first book the trip and then request reimbursement. They actually helped me to pick a better flight that was also a bit cheaper, and they dealt with the currency exchange. I am thankful for the organisers to help so much with this.
They also booked me in the hotel where the conference was taking place and arrange a car to collect me from and to the airport. I didn’t know how useful this would be until I arrived there. I would have had no idea about how to get to the hotel once there, so once again: so grateful for this.
I didn’t have time to travel a lot, just meet with the other speakers for food. That said, it seemed that Bangalore didn’t have much to see within the city but if you go a bit outside you can visit places. Unfortunately I didn’t have time for this , so my opinion about India can’t really count much from this trip. I’m going to have to go back for a better impression 😊
4) Impressions on the selenium conference:
I feel it was well organised, food was delicious (although I did get sick coming back home, but apparently this could happen during your first days in India for what I’ve heard).
I didn’t have much time to see all the talks, but I’ve watched some of the videos afterwards. I feel there was a good balance of speakers and that people should take into account the levels explained on the descriptions.
It was a pity that I was not able to attend to all the talks, but it is OK because of the recordings. I also felt pressured because I was presenting, so I’m happy I presented early enough and I could relax afterwards.
I really enjoyed it overall, it was a great experience and amazing opportunity for networking. All the speakers were very approachable, which I think it’s one of the biggest values of attending a conference.
5) The presentation. Self-feedback. Lighting talks.
What you are about to read now is a series of self-improvement tips, because, as a good Lynx, I am always learning. I am writing them more for myself than for you, but maybe this could help you too, if you ever consider presenting anything.
Looking back, I wish I reviewed much more and I trusted my own experience of needing more content than what it seems enough when practising. I felt it ended up being a bit short. Learning: prepare extra content and practice a lot.
For some reason (probably the fact that it was THE SELENIUM conference) I was as nervous as if it was my first conference ever. Learning: breathe slow, try relaxation techniques before the talk.
I wish I would have kept it more natural, after the matter I came up with more ideas to break the tension with the audience, but before that I didn’t know how to do it. Learning: get information about audience and think of how to break tension with them and make the content more interesting.
I wasn’t so sure about the content: it was a beginner talk but because it was very generic I could not go deep in any of the testing types… I wish now I would have spent longer in some of them or done some demo. However, I was relying in the questions to go a bit deeper…shockingly, there were not many questions. I think it could be a cultural thing because other presenters told me that the same happened to them as well. Learning: keep only 5 minutes for questions and show more technical bits. Talk about what you think it is important instead of waiting for them to ask.
I did blank out and forgot many many things I was meant to say. I took my safety notes with me but yet I lost my way throughout. This was what I was most scared of. Learning: slow down, move the notes as I go along. Have notes on the laptop, not only paper, it looks more natural to look in there.
Performance: muy accent didn’t come up clean. I should pursue to speak slower. I also looked and sounded tired, I was. I should try to get better sleep before the presentation day. Learning: just before the presentation, get as much sleep as possible. Travel earlier to avoid jet-lag. Record yourself to check if the pronunciation is correct or you need to change some words.
The lights were not the best – neither my shirt nor my slides matched with the background and projector. Learning: bring spare clothes and presentation with two background colours and try them before the meeting.
Video: it started late, my introduction was not recorded. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to move and I disappear every so often. Learning: Ask video person to record a short video and let you see it. Ask if you can move around or better stay in one place.
Even though I feel I could have done much better, I enjoyed the entire experience a lot. I learned plenty from it and I will be much more prepared for the next one.
If you attended or have watched the video, you might be interested on knowing more about a project that I mentioned I am working on…but that’s, well, another story.