Real Life: On doing my first testing talk

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
This is a typical interview question (that I personally avoid asking) but when I was last questioned about this I said I wanted to be speaking about testing and share my testing knowledge publically.

Since then two years have passed and yesterday I completed my first public talk at a local meet up. It was nerve wrecking and far from perfect but I have gotten some good pointers and one person admitted to learning something and others approached me to talk about testing challenges afterwards.
The meetup is normally full of developers  and I am the lone tester, but I managed to increase the tester attendees to 4 in total (that I was aware of)! Whoop!
This means we were over 10% as I think around 30 people may have turned up!

My Journey
My public speaking journey isn’t particularly special but here it goes anyways.

So after me stating in that interview that I want to be speaking publicly, I started a job at the company and around 8 months in did my first talk about Agile testing alongside my test manager.
We picked a few things from the book Agile Testing by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory and related the approaches to how we develop and test our current products and maybe how we can improve our sprint cycles, deployments to the test environments. The last part was an active discussion with the team. It went well but I read a script.

The second talk I did was very similar but in my next company where testing done by a professional was new. Again the subject was Agile testing and we brainstormed some things we could improve and set up action points.
This time I had a script I practiced but tried to mainly use it for guidance.

I should have mentioned that both talks I was sitting down in a meeting room and not standing.

I am not sure if it counts but before any of those I did a 99 seconds talk (well 60 seconds) at Testbash in Brighton.
I had written a little poem and just read that out to everyone. Funnily enough it meant a couple of people recognised me a year later and conversations just flowed about testing.

So just the small talk at testbash had a positive effect as it put me out of my comfort zone and then others felt happy to come and speak to me, which is great as I get shy and may not approach other testers for a chat. 🙂

And now finally I presented in front of an audience of mainly developers at a public meet up. This was probably the most challenging talk yet. I did get some good feedback and had talks with strangers about testing and how to improve their workflow afterwards.
But I can still improve loads.
What’s next?
I like to challenge myself so I am hoping to get some mentoring through the speak easy mentorship programme and maybe talk again at an event. I am hoping to gain guidance on how to structure a talk and some speaking tips.
Alongside this @northern_tester on twitter also shared some links with me about tailoring talks to your audience! Sounds like exciting stuff!

Any tips?
At this point I don’t have any tips really, but will give it a go:
1.Speak about your topic to as many people as you can. Start with individuals, friends, family, work colleagues.
2. Practice your arguments and points. Maybe use different outlets like twitter. Can you really summarise your point in 140 characters!?
3. Say your presentation out loud, maybe also to someone who will listen.
4. Less is more. That goes for text on slides and the words you say. A well placed pause can convey a lot of meaning.

How do you challenge yourself? Do you have a five year plan that would involve you getting out of your comfort zone?

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