Confessions of a first time speaker

This was 3rd RubyConf that I have attended so far, but this was the most special one to me. Why? Because I was one of the speakers this time.

It all started when I got a mail from the RubyConf team that my talk has been selected and they would need my confirmation that I will present the talk. Hell yeah .. I would speak at RubyConf !!! I was happy, excited, scared but never felt like accomplishing something already. All my colleagues and friends started congratulating me and I did not understood why they are doing so. I have not yet presented the talk, its just that my proposal is accepted. Big Deal. But later on I understood why they were all doing so. Although thats a story for some other time.

The day I got that email, I could not sleep that night. I was this nervous. But I always told myself that there is lot of time to prepare for it, the project I was working on was also running on 2nd gear. I use to calm myself down thinking that I could leave office a little early and would eventually find a lot of time to prepare myself for it. But things never go as you plan it, such is life. The very next week I was put on a different project and it was such a high priority project that I may also need to work on weekends to finish it on time. And I felt like things could not get worse, but I also saw it as a challenge, that If I could pull all these things off, that would be awesome. And I was up for the fight.

I had around 45 days to prepare for the talk. Now 45 days is a lot of time(yes, it is, only if you start right away). Lets face it, I did not start right away. I had so many things going on, and all needed my attention at the same time. And I learned my first very valuable lesson of life : Time Management.

Learn to manage your time efficiently. Time will not stop for you, you have to prioritize your goal. You can’t do all at the same time, learn to let go. And I did exactly that, I made my list of priorities and tried my best to stick with them. It was tough, very tough indeed. If I had to choose one thing that I would never want to miss out on, it would be fun. I simply do not want to miss out on fun. And there were times when I had to say NO to dinner with friends, NO to visit my sister and some more NO’s along the way and all these things were super fun for me. But I also realized that it was worth it.

It was exactly 20 days left when all the pieces starting fitting in and my presentation was ready. And I learned my second valuable lesson :Baby steps lead to bigger and better things. One big hurdle was crossed. It seems like the easiest of task but it takes most time to prepare the slides because you have to know your content and the flow of your talk. Once I was clear about the flow in my mind, I just had to make a plan with small achievable targets. But it will never happen that things always go as you see it, but if you stick with your plan, you will be in a better position to handle the surprising elements. Now when I did first trial of the talk at open-source Friday’s at Josh, it took me 45 minutes to finish the whole talk. But I was happy because I knew its better to have more content than fall short of content(that would have been a disaster). And more importantly I got such honest reviews from all my colleagues, all from the mistakes I am making, the pace of the talk, engaging audience more, to removing some content. Some of them even suggested me couple of jokes I could crack to lighten the environment and more importantly lighten myself 🙂 And we all decided that I should do one more final run before we leave for Goa (the venue for RubyConf could not have been better). Although I did not do a re-run of talk because I believe that doing it again and again would make it difficult for me and would make me a little less ready to handle all the uncertain things that will happen on the stage.

It was time for the Josh team to leave for Goa. Bags were packed and we were all set to leave. It’s always a lot of fun to go to Goa when you are going to attend the conference, meet interesting people, but its not so much fun when you are suppose to give a talk and specially when its your first talk. And there was a time when everyone had slept, the lights were off and I in the middle of the night, got off the middle berth, opened my laptop and started practising the talk and I saw few people passing by laughing at me. And I learned a lesson here too: Don’t worry when the world laughs at you. Finally we reached . The resort was beautiful, scenic and the rooms were just amazing (specially the huge TV, One of my friend got his ps3 along with him, it was so much fun to play FIFA on the huge box.). Beautiful Resort 13406443465_99a430d9f9_b Since we were here a day early for the conference, I had all the time in the world to relax on the beautiful private beach and did exactly that. It was Friday afternoon and so many people had already checked-in. The Josh team decided to play football on the beach in evening. It was an excellent plan. There was just one small problem with it, I should not have been a part of it in the first place. But being crazy football fan, I decided to play, and in the process I hurt myself. It felt like I may have a broken foot. Thats how much it was paining. I needed 2 guys to help me walk upto my room. And there it was, a lesson to be learnt: Think before you do. football_on_beach Finally, a new day and conference started. I was slotted to speak just before lunch. I was outside the conference room, at the bidder desk along with the bidder team. Finally it was 1:15 P.M, and it was my turn. I was less nervous now and was cherishing that moment (First times are always so special 🙂 ). The talk went well. A lot of people came up to me to say that they liked the talk. It was all very overwhelming and as soon as the talk ended, the pain in my leg also disappeared. Later in the night a beach party was organised. It was super-fun. Here is a pic from the party. DSC03345 All in all it was an amazing conference. Awesome venue, amazing people, beach party and the bidder game-desk made this conference an unique conference. The standard has been set really high for all the conferences to follow. Kudos to organisers and volunteers for pulling this off. (Credit to Anil Wadghule and Satish Talim for these beautiful pictures.)