Tuesday, July 24, 2012

#weareallawesome for public speaking

Every Tuesday at 1pm Pacific Time We Are All Awesome holds office hours on #weareallawesome on freenode. This week I asked Lorna Mitchell to share her experience at OSCON.

lornajane: I have never been to OSCON before, and I got two talks accepted that were kinda out of my league (I just submitted in the vague hope that something would happen)
chiuki: What do you mean by out of your league?
lornajane: both were scheduled on the same day - and they both went well!!! One of them was so full they shut the doors 5 minutes early
lornajane: chiuki: they were topics I didn't feel expert on
chiuki: ah
chiuki: but topics people want to hear
lornajane: yes, exactly
chiuki: what are the topics?
lornajane: I am very good at writing abstracts now - I have lots of practice at that! It was a PHP 5.4 talk (which actually was quite fun) and one about REST
lornajane: I am expert in REST but I hate speaking about it because it's contraversial and that part of the industry seems to make a habit of flaming and then I get upset
lornajane: the rest of my week was amazing, I've never been to Portland before and I loved it
chiuki: were there pointed questions at the REST talk?
lornajane: I met new friends and caught up with old ones, attended talks and tutorials in all kinds of technologies that I know nothing about, met loads of exhibitors and had fun at the parties
lornajane: chiuki: almost none. I mean, I got some questions laid down as a challenge, but I gave my (not-the textbook-version) opinion and the guy thanked me for my input
chiuki: cool
chiuki: so no flaming, then
lornajane: none!
lornajane: actually the OSCON crowd were all very friendly. I didn't know what to expect which was maybe fuelling my fears

I was curious about topics to submit, and Lorna has some insights:

chiuki: Any tips on submitting proposals to OSCON? What kind of topics go well?
lornajane: chiuki: it seems to be complicated, because there are tracks, so you're sort of submitting to subconferences
lornajane: so I aimed my talks firmly at the PHP track, and I know those people (and I stalked them on twitter!)
chiuki: That's a good way to look at it, to treat each track as a subconference
chiuki: I bet each track has its own review committee too
lornajane: chiuki: it exactly does
lornajane: I'm well-known in the PHP community so I pitched two talks to them (which they took) and one more general one (which didn't get in)
chiuki: the general one for a different track?
lornajane: yeah, it was like "algorithms for a geek lifestyle" or something like that
chiuki: oh I remember now
chiuki: I actually submitted something
lornajane: because I saw a few lifehacker type talks
chiuki: for being an indie developer
chiuki: but got rejected
lornajane: but mostly it was just good, clean tech all the way through
chiuki: next year I'll submit some hardcore Android talks for the mobile track
lornajane: chiuki: definitely do that!
chiuki: I think I got confused by the OS part of OSCON
chiuki: focusing too much on open source
chiuki: Android is open source, but that's not the part I work with
lornajane: they aren't militant about open source
chiuki: so I was trying too hard to cater to the OS part
chiuki: I'm looking at the program
chiuki: my existing Android talks will go really well

chiuki: I wonder if the twitter stalking helped you got your proposals accepted, lornajane :-)
cczona: what was the twitter stalking?
lornajane: chiuki: I don't know! I figured it didn't hurt :) Laura told me though that they had loved my proposals and that it was unusual to take two
lornajane: cczona: I know who runs the PHP track at OSCON so I tweeted at her when I submitted, just a little touch to remind her
cczona: Good idea.
chiuki: yeah, it's good to get your name in front of people

Rebecca Murphey, Carina Zona and Estelle Weyl chimed in when we discussed speaker packages:

lornajane: the main thing with oscon is that they have no speaker package
lornajane: so unless you work for a big company, it's hard to go
chiuki: no financial aid whatsoever?
lornajane: officially, not at all. In fact they can help out if you ask them, sometimes, but it seems a bit hit and miss
rmurphey: how much are oscon tickets and oscon sponsorships?
lornajane: rmurphey: I am not sure, I think the tickets are 1200 USD
chiuki: 1200USD????
chiuki: OMG
rmurphey: i am a tad bit puzzled as to why they can't cover speaker costs
rmurphey: sell one ticket per speaker, done
lornajane: rmurphey: the speakers are confused about that too
lornajane: rmurphey: most of them are big company people so it's no pain to them
lornajane: OSCON did cover my flight when I asked them to (I'm coming in from Europe and I'm self-employed)
rmurphey: good for you for asking lornajane :)
lornajane: rmurphey: actually, estellevw told me to
lornajane: and the devchix helped me find somewhere cheap to stay
lornajane: then the phpwomen helped me with my slides because it was all quite short notice
lornajane: hurrah for women in tech, is all I can say!
cczona: yeah
chiuki: hurray!
cczona: that's a great testament to the support available in the community
lornajane: *and* the systers had a lunch while we were there and I met more cool ladies doing amazing things. I felt so inspired by everyone's support
cczona: :-)
lornajane: oscon gives a pass, I should have said that. But nothing else
estellevw: O'Reilly does pay for some speakers. I assume if they want you to speak and don't think you can fund it thru a company.
rmurphey: if you would like to read a host of opinions on the topic, https://gist.github.com/3098860
rmurphey: but be warned
rmurphey: there are 181 comments

This is just a sample of the things we discuss on #weareallawesome. What do you want to talk about? Come join us some time!

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