STEP OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
After attending a few conferences, I realized that a lot of us may feel Impostor syndrome when it comes to professional knowledge. Its definition in Wikipedia states:
Impostor syndrome is a term referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
This should not happen, because we all have unique stories and career advice to share. So, why not to step outside of the comfort zone and become a speaker?
In one of the conferences I attended the after-party and a couple of speakers shared their road to becoming a speaker. What inspired me the most was that they stressed that you already have a “No” by default, so why not to try applying to the conference and suggesting your topic until you get a “Yes”? It cannot get worse because you already have a “No”. This is how many speakers actually became speakers – by trying to use each chance they have and not giving up.
Working on becoming a speaker has been recent stepping outside of the comfort zone for me. I still need to work very hard and actually achieve my goal, but I have collected a few valuable tips which can help you to get started as well.
- Think of your knowledge and passions to decide what topics you could talk about.
As a professional you definitely have tools or methodologies you use. These could be easily transformed into a useful presentation for others. Especially, if they are made of advice and tips on how others could improve their work. Some examples that I have noticed often are “Responsive Design” or “How to improve your Selenium tests”. These topics are specific enough and a lot of people may be interested in hearing more about it. Also, you could think of something which is not that common but you are passionate about. It can be your own success story, or, area that interests you. For example, maybe you’re passionate about Internet of Things and could share what you’ve learned about its testing so far?
- Read and watch online resources
Don’t be afraid to search for information online on how to become a speaker. Recently I found a great blog post on how to write an appealing abstract for the conference, and, noticed a soon approaching webinar on Conference Speaking 101 by Lee Copeland. These resources are free, but definitely very valuable.
- Find a mentor
There are many speakers who are willing to help you to become a speaker. One of the great ways to find them is to apply for Speak Easy programme which is free. There you get an experienced mentor who helps you to build your talk and gives you a lot of useful advice. I have joined it and my mentor has been giving great thought-provoking feedback (some of it inspired this blog post). Also, recently Maaret Pyhäjärvi volunteered to help mentor new speakers and organize Signature Webinar Series with Ministry of Testing.
- Practise speaking in your company and local events
The best way to get experience in public speaking is to start little by little and grow your audience. In my company every two weeks we organize a Secret Gathering where anyone from company can share their discoveries or work details if they want. This helps both to understand the team better and also practise your own presentation skills. When you are better in presenting in smaller groups, why not to give a go giving a speech in a local meetup? If you’re in Budapest and would like to talk about something QA related – feel free to contact me and join Budapest’s QA meetup as a speaker.
- Don’t give up
Becoming a speaker definitely requires a lot of patience and hard work. I am sure that I will first get multiple rejections before getting an invitation to actually speak. However, only trying we can actually achieve our dreams.
Testing community is great and the more people we get involved in it – the better. Join me trying to step outside the comfort zone and bringing in some new voices to conferences.