My experience speaking at DevRelCon 2021
Nov 15, 2021
What a year! In 2021, when I started my first role in DevRel I also spoke at this year’s edition of DevRelCon.
DevRelCon is a series of conferences related to DevRel, or Developer Relations, since 2015. This year, it was held in an online format.
I had the honour of speaking with some of the most thoughtful, clever people. I’m so thankful for this opportunity.
Coming up with my talk proposal
When the time came to propose a talk, I thought about what it was that I did a lot of during this year that I could turn into a talk.
That’s when it hit me: Streaming! I’ve been doing loads of it this year! Here’s an example of me streaming with Thamara from the Time to Leave project, getting onboarded to the project for the first time and making a pull request.
This is what my proposal looked like:
Coming to you live! Inclusive, effective, fun live streaming for DevRel
Adapting to having events online has been a learning experience for us all. How can we keep a constant, steady, interactive experience for our audience?
In this talk, we’ll cover how we created Open Source Thursdays, including the tools we used, the accessibility considerations, as well as how we’ve improved it over time. Anyone can be a great live streamer!
And wouldn’t you know it, my talk got accepted! I was overjoyed and so nervous!
Preparing to give my talk
Everybody prepares talks differently. My approach tends to be as follows:
First, the topic pops into my head, and with it a global outline: 4-5 points or pieces of advice I want to offer.
Next, having written the above title and abstract, I set out to build my slides. My process is to build one ‘title’ slide for each point, and let each section and its corresponding slides grow from there.
Finally, when it comes to practise, again, everybody has a different technique. Here, mine is to get a script or general gist going in my head, and give the talk to myself a handful of times before being satisfied.
That said, I was quite nervous having my debut DevRel talk, so I practised over 5 times, once even an hour before the talk itself! I’ll admit I was happy to have done that.
One piece of feedback I was given during the tech check was to shift my setup or position to face the camera. I recently changed the angle of my phone (heh, indeed, I use my phone as my webcam) to be at an angle, as I felt this was more immersive for streams, as shown in the screenshot of one of my personal live streams below:
The solution was therefore to re-orient myself to try and face the camera in such a way that still allowed me to have that camera angle but still be able to use Google Slides’ speaker notes mode comfortably to offer my presentation.
But then came the first day of the conference!
Day 1: Defining DevRel and surprise MC session
The day started great! It was great to hear from wonderful folks, especially the panel on “What do dev advocates actually do?” with Yashovardhan, Srushtika, Daniel and Jess.
Halfway through the day, I was DM’ed to be asked if I could fill last-minute in for somebody as co-MC. How could I possibly say no?
If you haven’t MC’ed and are curious about it, I can highly recommend it! It can be a little indimidating at first, but I try to keep a few things in mind:
- The audience wants you to succeed, relax!
- Your job overall is to keep an eye out for questions and make the speakers shine! Play off of their energy.
- I like to have a set of related questions handy, just in case. There are no bad questions!
Day 2: Management and metrics
The second day had talks in a variety of topics, including how to prove the value of DevRel to management, sideways management, which is how DevRel fits in with adjacent departments, and finally managing a DevRel team.
Sadly I couldn’t stick around for a lot of the talks, but particularly appreciated Tim’s talk on value driven DevRel and Bear’s talk on managing your first developer relations team. All the talks I saw I really loved!
Day 3: DevRel around the world, speaking, startups, my talk!
The day started wonderfully with 3 talks on DevRel focussing on tailoring your DevRel work to different regions from Kay, Akanksha and Shedrack.
Next up was the section on “Speaking as part of DevRel”, with yours truly going first! Personally, I was super nervous leading up to it, but it tapered off quickly as I got into the talk, as it usually does.
After Layla and Naomi’s wonderful talks on live coding, and crafting and delivering demos, we then had a lovely panel discussion on topics related to streaming cadence, authenticity and the different topics to stream about.
After that, the relief of being done felt like a rush of adrenaline going away! I broke for lunch and errands, back in time for the section on events, with informative talks from Siddharth, Philipp and Kevin.
I had to work the rest of the day, so I caught a few more talks before breaking for the day. I definitely made sure to catch a few more highlights before being done. My colleague and dear friend Nahrin was co-MC’ing during the “DevRel for Startups” portion of the day, which included insightful talks by Shivay and Alex! I also made sure to catch my good friend Suze’s talk on Marketing! Loved those slides.
Having online conferences has been particularly difficult. I find that my best experiences have come from a dedicated audience that interacts and keeps things going! I was so happy to see the community come together and ask questions, share experiences and resources.
It was a joy to be able to contribute. Thank you to Matt and the rest of the team for having me and providing such a good speaking experience. 💜Buy me a coffee @hola_soy_milk