Why and how an IT specialist should be a speaker of courses and conferences

We had a short interview with Pavel Selivanov, an architect at Yandex Cloud, one of the first teachers of our courses and a speaker at IT conferences. Pavel tells why IT professionals should get involved in speaking, how to prepare for classes and public speaking. The article is useful for those who are thinking about building a personal brand or feel the desire to share their knowledge.

– Tell me, why speak at conferences and teach courses at all?

– First of all, this, of course, helps organize knowledge in your head. Sometimes it happens that you seem to know and understand how everything works, but when you try to explain it, it turns out that there is no clear structure in your head, and there are many gaps in knowledge. When you prepare a presentation or a course, you begin to understand, structure everything, and thanks to this, you yourself understand the topic better or even learn something new.

Even during the courses, students ask unexpected questions from the series “What will happen if …?”. And you start to think, what will really happen? You are looking for answers to questions with students and you are pumping.

Over time, it starts to work even without real questions. When preparing materials, you ask yourself: “What will happen if …?”. You try, experiment, and also grow as a professional.

Another bonus – speaking helps “grow” experienced colleagues. Now there are still not enough people in IT, especially smart ones. If you are a good specialist, you probably often lack colleagues on projects with whom you can share responsibilities or at least delegate part of the tasks to them. By speaking at conferences and teaching at courses, you make people more competent in IT – which means you simplify your work.

From the editor: we at Slurm made the Kubernetes for Developers course specifically to explain to developers at a basic level the things that admins do. Such knowledge allows different teams to speak the same language.

More courses and conferences are a good tool for personal branding. Those who are known from conferences and courses are often tried to be hunted in larger companies for higher positions and higher salaries. Yes, and when changing jobs on your own initiative, speaking at conferences and courses will be a good plus in your resume.

And of course, teaching in courses is often paid – you can get a good salary bonus.

“Many don’t speak or teach because they feel like they don’t have anything to say. How to overcome this feeling?

– Indeed, sometimes it seems that everything is obvious, this has already been said 350 times and it’s not even worth starting.

This happens because of the peculiarities of our brain, cognitive distortion. When you know something, it seems like everyone around you knows it too. Well, or not all, but at least the people of your profession.

I had such a problem too. And I passed when I realized two things:

  • Conferences and speeches are only 50% about information. People gather here to recharge the atmosphere, get to know each other, chat. Even if the speaker’s topic is hackneyed, this is an occasion to ask questions, discuss and get to know those who are still listening to a lecture on an interesting topic.

  • Even talking about what has already been said is important. Someone did not hear it, someone did not understand – but they will understand you. Just because you say in other words, give your examples, share your personal experience.

In the worst case, the report will simply not be accepted, and the topic of the course or lecture will be rejected. It happens, but until you try to offer – you will never know.

Let’s imagine that a person is thinking about teaching or speaking at conferences. What competencies does he need to do this?

– First, you need the ability to logically present their thoughts. Otherwise, it will just be noise – it seems that there is information, but nothing is clear. Many speakers suffer from this – even we had such a problem at the start in Slurm. You need to practice, learn and always keep in mind that your goal is not just to tell, but to explain.

It is important to correctly pause, make accents, tell in sequence, without constantly jumping between slides. If you remember something, it is better to give it out a little later, first finishing the current thought.

Very useful no stage fright. For many, speaking, even online, is very exciting. It was easier for me, I studied music and performed regularly on stage from the age of 14-15, so I knew how to work with excitement. If this is not the case for you, and you begin to be embarrassed, stammer and get confused during any public speaking, you need to work on yourself.

And, of course, you need a desire. Speaking or teaching because “it’s necessary and everyone does it” is a road to nowhere. You must like it – only then everything will really work out.

Nothing more is needed. In this area, a lot can be delegated, so you just have to want, collect your knowledge, structure it and not be afraid to speak to the public.

– What will need to be done by those who still decide to become a teacher at the courses?

– When I did my first global courses, we had a problem – we did everything with the help of speakers. We collected programs ourselves, negotiated, even made presentations as best we could. Prepared practices and stands. My first course in general was a real tin – intensive for 50 people, with two speakers, without technical support. We ran and tried to put out burning questions from students and burning stands. Now most online courses are organized differently.

From the editor: Now in our company, together with the speakers, the course is created by a whole team: course director, methodologist, project manager, video specialist, designer, technical support engineers, speech trainer. Speakers do not need to organize any processes or, for example, design presentations.

In the current paradigm, you will most likely have to:

  • Participate in the preparation of the program. Together with the course organizer and methodologists, outline topics, draw up a training plan, and structure it logically. Usually you are given information about who the course is being prepared for and what the students are interested in, and then you figure out together how to present it.

  • Minimal preparation of presentations for the lessons. Usually it is the speaker who writes what should be on the slides. And then the designer does everything beautifully. I write text and use red font to indicate where to add a picture or insert a logo.

  • Prepare practical assignments. What exactly will the students do and what should be the output.

From the editor: decided to become a speaker? The easiest option is to monitor IT conferences and offer your candidacy. You can still come to us in Slurm We are always glad to new experts.

And from June 10 to July 14 will be held “School of Speakers”, a program where we will package your experience into interesting presentations, learn how to speak in front of an audience and get high from it. In five weeks, you will go through all the stages of preparation and get real experience of speaking in front of an audience.

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