Sarah Katz

NYC-Based Full Stack JS Developer

From the mind of Sarah...

To Speak or Not To Speak

March 17, 2019

When I was first starting out as a developer, I wanted to do everything "right". Not just in terms of my code, but also being involved in the community - blogging, tweeting, being involved in open source, and going to events. I was speaking to a fellow Fullstack Alum after seeing him present at an event, and he suggested that I give a talk at a meetup. I immediately dismissed the idea - I don't do public speaking. When we had to present hackathon projects in front of our classmates and a camera at Fullstack, I was in the early stages of an anxiety attack when I went up to present (thankfully, I got through it okay).

Public speaking is not for everyone. I like to share my thoughts and experiences through my blog (and writing is how I process my thoughts anyway), so I'm okay with that. Except ... recently I've kind of been feeling like I want to speak at a meetup. Specifically, I want to speak about my experience building this here website and blog with Gatsby. I know there are a lot of tutorials and blog posts about setting up a blog with Gatsby, but I still feel like I can add to the conversation by sharing my experience and maybe even encourage someone else to get started with Gatsby.

Which leaves me in an interesting situation. I want to share my Gatsby experience with others, but I'm not great with crowds or public speaking. So what do I do?
I could blog about it (since I blog about everything else anyway), but there are a lot of blogs about Gatsby out there, and that doesn't feel like the way I want to contribute to the conversation in this case.

Honestly? I'm completely torn. I started filling out the form to submit a CFP for the CodeNewbies Codeland conference (it's a very beginner-friendly community ... and the conference is local, so if it goes badly, I can just hop on a subway and then be crying in bed less than an hour later), but then I chickened out. I've also been thinking about maybe doing something on a smaller scale, like giving a short talk at a local meetup, but I don't even know where to start with that. There are so many meetups out there - how do I decide which one to speak at? How do I go about setting it up? Are meetups friendly to new speakers who will be extremely nervous?

When it comes to blogging, I mostly know what I'm doing. I don't need to find the right place to share my thoughts because I already have multiple ways of sharing my blogs with my network. But when it comes to public speaking, I'm at a complete loss. I don't know what the right environment is for my speech, where I would be welcomed, or even how long I would want to speak for. Or if I can even get through the speexh with no major anxiety issues. Really, I'm not even sure if I really want to speak about my blog experience or if this is just a passing idea.

Please feel free to share any tips, suggestions, etc and reach out to me if you have a meetup/conference in the NYC area where you think my speaking would be welcomed! And definitely share first-time public speaking experiences with me in the comments - I'm excited to read all about everyone else's speaking experience!

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