Experience Report: Giving a talk at Let's Test as part of Speak Easy


A few months ago, I approached Maria Kedemo to be my mentor as part of the Speak Easy Program. She said Yes! :D So we started working on my proposal and then later the actual talk itself together. At the start, we first discussed our expectations around how we would do this (to be honest, I remember having this discussion but not exactly what our expectations were, so I can’t list them here). We collaborated on Google docs to work on the proposal and then later, the talk itself. We also had a few Skype calls (about an hour long on average) to prepare for Let’s Test.

I practiced my talk with her for the first time (in full) about 1.5 - 2 weeks before Let’s Test. At this point she gave really useful feedback and how to improve my talk which I took onboard including the use of specific examples from my past and tying the closing points to the opening story. I then practiced in front of Martin Hynie and Maria the night before I gave the actual talk.

I practiced the talk a few times at home and in my hotel room at Runö (a blank white wall happened to be my favourite audience when doing this). I found that I easily remembered about half my talk and the other half I really struggled with (this continued to the talk itself where I had to refer to my notes more than I would’ve liked).

Lead-up to the talk at the conference

To be honest, I was very nervous leading up to the talk itself while I was at the conference (I really was a bundle of nerves, I ate salad and a bit of egg for lunch then nothing until 6.30pm. I also had to exit the Closing Keynote to calm myself down as I felt I was going to throw up as my stomach was still twisting from the nerves)

The fact that my talk was at the last time-slot before the Closing Keynote, didn’t help either as I’m one of those people who just gets more and more nervous as time passes. I had the logical side of my mind saying “You’ll be fine, you’ve spoken in public before and what’s the worst that could happen?” The logical side of my mind was trying to put it in perspective.

But the more emotional part (which was more dominant) was scared of the fact that people would just stare at me blankly and think WTF or that there’d be no Open Season discussion. The Open Season discussion part was very important to me as I feel you learn just as much (if not more) from the discussion than the talk itself.

I didn’t tell people that I met at the conference that I was going to speak at it, neither did I post it on Twitter while I was at the conference. I’m not sure why I didn’t, looking back I probably should’ve.

The Talk

It went really well, I couldn’t have asked for a better audience. It was the perfect forum for me to share a personal experience. I shared a personal story about my past in software testing and then some of the things I learnt from it - including the acronym WIT, which has been a great go-to when it comes to advocating for bugs. Almost everyone either participated in the Open Season or came up to me afterwards to give feedback or add a few comments. Those really lifted my spirits.

Lastly I would like to say thank you.

Thank you Maria for mentoring me - you were an encouraging mentor and I really appreciate the useful pointers so that I could improve my presentation.

Thank you Speak Easy for the opportunity - I love what you are doing!

Thank you Patrick for being my facilitator - your presence and support was very calming

Thank you Lim for filming a bit of it - it meant that my bf will get to watch a snippet.

Thank you to the attendees - I really appreciate your feedback and the questions you asked, they meant the everyone else in the room got to learn more from the session.