I just left Chicago after attending my favorite conference, php|tek. This is an event that has become near and dear to me, and I am so grateful that the musketeers have stepped in to make sure that it continues running.
I first attended back it 2010, and have continued to grow ever since then. When I say grow, most people will immediately assume that I have become a better developer, and while that is true, I have grown in more important ways. I have become less introvert (notice I did not say that I have become an extrovert). But I have learned to not shy away nearly as much. I have grown to respect myself enough to know that I am more than I think I am.
In 2010, I decided that I wanted to speak at a conference one day. I feel I did it the right way by starting off with my local user group. I didn’t jump right in and try to tackle a conference. Starting with the user group gives you a great intermediary step. You probably know many of the members in the group, and it is usually smaller than a conference.
I was privileged enough to give two presentations this year at tek. My first one, which I felt more prepared for was a little shaky, and I knew it. 🙁 I did not take any offense to some of the criticism that I received. I blame it partially on being the first time I have used a mic, and hearing yourself and knowing that I did not want to over modulate, I tended to speak more monitonely. I am upset with that fact… I also tended to go through my slides faster than I should have. I just needed to take more deep breaths and slow myself down. Overall, I am pleased with the results, and on a scale of 1 (I passed out) to 10 (I knocked it out of the park), I would give myself a 5.1. I know there is a ton of room for improvement in my public speaking, and I will do that.
My second talk was much better for the most part. I did no use a mic this time, as the room and number of people were much smaller. I am very happy that Beth Tucker-Long, joined in for a couple of reasons. She was the only one to tell me that I needed to speak up. It’s very easy to start off talking strong and projecting, only to end up trailing off into a conversational voice. My overall energy level during this talk was much better, and I felt like I was having a conversation. I hope I was less monotone, and better paced. What I really like about presenting is the ability to have a conversation with the entire group where I get to learn as much as I may have taught. If there is one thing I know, it’s that everyone has something to share. Just because you go to a class to learn, there is probably something you know that can help the entire class (including the teacher).
I set some of my personal goals down on paper last year, and at this point have realized almost all of them. I have been published in a PHP magazine (twice I may add), I have lost a bunch of weight (2 pounds to reach the goal I set), I spoke at a conference, among others. Time to break out the pen and write some more down. Beth and I discussed this and she mentioned maybe adding “book author” to the list… Intriguing.
Thank you Musketeers.