A photo of two women posing in front of a sign for the Grace Hopper Celebration.

At Grace Hopper (GHC17): Find Your Inner Tech Talk in 60 Minutes

In one of the largest ballrooms in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Katerina Domenikou and Vedika Dalmia, Infrastructure Engineers at Bloomberg, gave an inspired talk on how to “Find Your Inner Tech Talk in 60 Minutes.” As someone unafraid of public speaking, seeking ways to have impact on the technical community, I couldn’t have chosen a better presentation to attend. For me, the big question was, “What value could I possibly bring to the table as such an early part of my career?

And that was really quickly answered as the challenge was posed to make it through all 52 question cards in just a few minutes. The speakers declared that no one had ever completed them all in the time allotted and that the closest someone had come was four cards to go.

My best friend, Lizzie Molloy, and I took it as a “challenge accepted” moment. Having spent most of the last 7 months helping each other through any project either of us has attempted to take on, we were able to help each other come up with the various answers. Often answering for each other rather than ourselves, it was easier to brag about each other’s accomplishments than to come up with our own. There was also no stress to impress each other as we blazed through the impressively thought-provoking cards with prompts like,

  • “A technical book you bought, but not started yet”
  • “You are known among your colleagues for…”
  • “Favorite tech course”
  • “On your CV, you are proudest of…”
  • “The last thing you did beyond your role”
  • And 47 more!

We were able to finish with a full four minutes remaining! While the playing cards and gamification was a highlight for me, their overall plan was a clean simple solution to an ages-old problem of generating new content with confidence.

Their plan started with Goal Setting. After allowing the teams to discuss, they showed a list of common motivations for “Why do you want to deliver your next tech talk?” Some of the recommended goals were to improve public speaking, recruit people, share a passion, influence people, share knowledge, establish expertise, career development, and even learn new tech.

Once you have defined your goal, they used the card game to accomplish their next line item: Brainstorming. As you can see from the list above, these prompts were an impressive journey for self-discovery. Prompting us to ask questions we never really give ourselves the time to think about or acknowledge.

Once you had a considerable amount of cards answered and a vast array of quick phrases on your Keywords Cloud (the place in the handout booklet, you were meant to record the answers to the card game), the process of Refining began. Again, they gave the tools to do this step effectively. Giving graphic for you to compare Impact vs. Effort and Novelty vs. Effort, which was paired a list of questions to help determine which topic would be the strongest candidate for your next tech talk. (The list of questions can be found here!)

Even here, at the stage where most people would feel like they had accomplished a lot in just a short 60 minutes, their plan was not complete. We were only halfway there!

The next step in the plan was the ever intimidating Planning aspect. Yet again, they provided just the right kind of questions to develop a clear picture of the size, scope, and scale. From the ideal audience, potential venues, and format,  to tips on creating an effective tile that will draw and audience.

Lastly, they left their audience with a strong call to action <COMMIT> command. Tweet your topics to them @mynexttalk. Share contacts with people around you. For more information, resources, references, and more visit their official GitHub. They offered advice, support, and the ever-encouraging cheerleading team for any of your upcoming talks inspired by their presentation.

3 thoughts on “At Grace Hopper (GHC17): Find Your Inner Tech Talk in 60 Minutes

  1. Katerina Domenikou says:

    Great blogpost, Kait! We are very glad that you enjoyed the workshop and you found it useful!
    Btw, small typo at my last name: Domenikou 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

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