Made of Everything You're Not

I’m Speaking! (... again…)

Welp, here we go again. Time to yakkity yak about coding in one of the only places left where "for the exposure" actually works as an incentive: virtual conferences. On May 25th I'll be speaking at the EE Conf 2022 Spring Conference; a virtual conference all about ExpressionEngine. It's reasonably priced at $49, which let's just do the math, is basically $8 an hour to learn all about the latest and greatest hotness within ExpressionEngine (and the community). Not too bad.

And I'm gonna be speaking at it. For like 45 minutes. Virtually. Probably super early since I'm basically PST so this starts at 7AM my time. (I should ask for a later slot now that I think about it.) I've decided to go SUPER self aggrandizing and will be talking all about my little side project, EE Objects, and why it's super awesome for ExpressionEngine development. So go sign up and be sure to check out my talk.

So yeah, me talking using English like I'm a native speaker. Which I am. So very easy on that front. But getting a slot to talk is just the start. The process of getting the slot was basically me submitting a form saying, "I wanna talk about this thing I built" and that's it. You use proper grammar and throw some links into it, so the reviewer can actually look into your topic, but easy enough. It's the after where things require effort and what I want to go over; all the various tasks needed for putting a presentation together for a virtual conference.

Dirty little secret of the conference world is just how much of an financial burden it routinely puts on the presenters. Most notably at the newer conferences, but there are tons of stories on how even big events like Ted just milks their speakers. My experience has been right down the middle. I've had to pay for my own travel and lodging to even get to events but I've also had full accommodations and travel paid up front.

Speaker dinners rule though. You don't get to do those in a virtual conference which does make for a disconnect between the speakers. Small price to pay though considering the lack of travel I have to do. But not knowing any of the other presenters makes a cohesive voice tough to create. Again though, no travel so I'm gonna make do.

Slides Are Required

First things first, gotta put some thought and creativity into your talk. Slides too. Gotta have slides. Which means we need an outline; probably my favorite part about putting a talk together. You need an outline. Obviously, so you know what you're talking about and the details you want to go into, but also because your outline is going to make up your slides.

Putting slides together is an art unto itself so, by all means, do your own diligence and research, but for me it usually involves a few points.

  1. Don't repeat your slides. Don't be that presenter; the one who just parrots what the audience can read.
  2. Items and sub-items are the way. Start out high level then drill deeper per point. Again, don't parrot.
  3. Don't be a parrot.

Once you have an outline worked out, you gotta put them together using whatever flavor of tool you like. For me, I'm gonna stick with Powerpoint just 'cause I can and don't want to spend the time digging into an alternative.

Slide Styling

I feel like it should be mentioned that you HAVE to put a style (of sorts) together for your slides. A cohesive pattern. While I too am a fan of Times New Roman on a white background, it's at least worth considering. Your audience will respect the effort.

AV Gear Upgrade Time

Unique to virtual conferences is the excuse to upgrade my personal microphone and video setup. Historically, this has been a nonissue; I've been exclusive to laptops for two decades and they've all been coming with camera and microphone standard for half that time. And, I don't skimp on my laptops. Gamer computers make the BEST development computers in my opinion. And, when you're not working, you get a gaming computer.

Win/win.

And, to be fair, gaming laptops, even those like mine (which is only 4 years old), come equipped with "good enough" hardware. It's fine. Not great but not bad; just enough to goldilocks the requirement. And for things like Zoom, Skype, etc, they're fine. But for a professional speaking engagement, it's time for an upgrade.

So I'm looking to get a better microphone and video camera. Something that doesn't suck. And I did what you do: I asked smart which yielded 2 recommendations. The Shure MV7, sold without a stand(?!?) for $249, and the Blue Yeti USB Mic for $129.

Now, I'm usually a fan of the "pay more now to save later" mentality (especially when it comes to commodity hardware) but, let's be honest, Shure is straight gold digging. Not a fan of that, so I went with the Blue Yeti option. Well, sort of. I ended up going with the Pro model though that was more accident than anything (I didn't thought I was buying the other one). Still waiting on it to arrive but it should be a pretty solid choice.

Since I'm broke, I decided to forgo the video camera for the moment. those fuckers are expensive. Quite pricey for the good ones. And, let's be honest; my entire talk is going to be sharing my screen so "good enough" should suffice for now.

Now that my hardware situtation is handled, next up, I gotta actually put a talk together. I have the topic, "EE Objects, and how it's pretty damn cool" (paraphrasing), but that's actually a pretty meaningless description even without the paraphrasing. Oh. And there's a "dig your old slide creative out of whatever backup it lives in" part... lots to be done...

Eric Lamb

Builds things. Has thoughts. Sometimes they're even worth sharing.

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