Our annual technical conference NODES is back, November 16th and 17th, 2022. The CFP is open and you can submit talks until August 20th. We often get questions about ideas for talks and what makes a good abstract. Here are some tips to create your own presentations.
If you are looking for ideas for talks, consider:
• Taking a look at popular questions or discussions on the forums
• Thinking of best practices
What else? 🤔 Does anybody have another suggestion?
Thinking about ideas for conference talks: you can draw from your own experience. For example, you may want to share some of the interesting problems you’ve solved, or some of the challenges you’ve overcome. Perhaps something you have learned from and struggled with while building an application. Design patterns are also good candidates because they can be useful for many people.
The main thing is to share your journey with peers because they may be confronting the same issues as you.
this one right here is under-discussed. Folks sometimes think they need to do a talk on something technically excellent to wow their peers. But we're all just engineers and everybody's struggling getting their stuff to work right. People who do presentations about their learning journeys (how I set off to do XYZ and what I learned along the way) are often doing other people in the community a solid, because these kinds of presentations identify pitfalls and give ways of routing around them.
"Going through the thought process of engineering something" is also super helpful to people who are just starting out.
Sometimes just adding a little more knowledge to what you already know can turn it into a conference talk. Organizing your thoughts around something you solved or created helps you remember and sharpens your ability to solve problems. There is something about teaching others that helps you learn it yourself.
A lot of speakers I meet submit talks about something they’d like to understand better. If it gets accepted, it proves that there is interest for that topic. It gives you a deadline for learning and presenting about it. You should choose something that you can realistically dig into and present well. Some people call this “conference-driven development” 😂 It’s funny, but once you have committed to giving a conference talk, you are forced to actually build the thing. The important point is to choose a topic that you have some familiarity with that you’re able to really dig into and build a conference talk around.
Many veteran speakers align their talks to solve common problems while improving their expertise on the topic. That’s a sweet spot. There are tons of common problems that come up over and over again. They are easy to identify on forums. The key is to turn the topic into an educational talk. You can even get your friends in the community to give you feedback. It's another great way to come up with ideas for talks.
Other people’s talks can help jumpstart your own! Take a look at interesting speakers, not just from past NODES, but any talks out there. I’m thinking about technical and non-technical talks where I’ve heard some amazing speakers. In any case, when you consider why someone’s talk was inspiring, it can help you generate ideas for your own presentation - whether it’s the presentation style or the methods for solving a problem you want to present. So, that’s another way you can come up with ideas.
Every talk needs a proposal, which is a title and description that will posted on the conference website. Writing a compelling title and description gives prospective attendees a brief outline of your talk. It’s an abstract that attempts to connect with people interested in the subject. Another important element of a talk proposal is your bio. What experience do you have and why are you qualified to give this talk? A well-constructed proposal will help get your talk accepted and then attract an audience of conference attendees.
When writing the talk description, consider the attendee’s perspective. They need enough information to quickly understand if the content interests them. Speakers will often write such concise descriptions as “In this talk, we will explore … and learn how to use … “ - and so on. If the talk is about Cypher, the description might read: “In this talk, we will take a look at the Cypher Query Language and how to use it for writing basic queries.”