The week just gone I got up in front of everyone at the Ministry of Testing Leeds meet up and gave a talk about Kafka and the things I learned while writing an end to end test suite for it.
This was my first time talking at a Ministry of Testing meet up and my first time delivering a talk to a tester audience so I’m going to write up some points on how I think I can improve future talks (yeah this blog is to myself).
The talk was based on my blog post — Lessons Learned testing a Kafka based application and on converting the subject to a presentation I think I left a few things out that would have made it a killer talk.
But before I start writing about things I’d like to improve I’d like to thank the Ministry of Testing Leeds meet up for listening to me drone on about Kafka for a solid 25 minutes and give a shout out to Scott Kenyon for his great talk on his first 8 months as a tester (including his amazing rap).
Summarise the technical aspects
Not everyone in the audience will be interested in the implementation details of every aspect of the system but they’ll want to know how it works generally so they can start asking questions.
It’s important to leave this space to think and question the subject as those who aren’t too interested in the technical aspects can ask high level questions about the topic while those who want to delve into the technical details can do so too.
Most importantly it means that you don’t spend too long explaining components of a system to a crowd who just want to know the best way of creating a test case or gotchas around using the system.
Talk more about the journey
Context is key and delivering a technical talk with little context about the journey you made to where you are now, and how you learned the skills you’re talking about leave the audience a little confused and the talk feels more like a lecture than anything.
Talking about the journey also makes the subject more personal as people can connect with the situation you found yourself in and the actions you took even if they have very little interest in the subject itself.
Give lots of examples
A talk without examples is dry and can feel like a lecture, adding examples and demonstrations can help drive home the points of the talk even if the descriptive slides get glossed over.
Even if you can’t provide a code example or demonstrate the subject use pictures and animations to show how things generally would work as this is helps more visual learners understand the concepts.
If possible make the examples interactive so that people aren’t just sat listening for 25 minutes.
Similar to building a product you need to iterate over the talk, test it out with different audiences and make sure you’re delivering something valuable.
One of the things I’ll need to do in the coming months is find a group of people to bounce ideas for talks off of and get feedback from.