I speak at technology conferences, and this newsletter is intended as a guide to that activity based on my personal experiences. I like to pick a theme for the content each week and focus on one of the many aspects of the skill of conference speaking.

This week my topic is “building your personal brand”. A nice easy topic, I thought. But when I sat down to write the newsletter it became very clear to me that I did not have the first clue about personal branding. My own “personal brand”, such as it is, has not been crafted with any sort of structure or intent. I have all sorts of things out there on the net, but there’s no cohesion to them.

I started doing some research and listening to some talks and realized that I needed to go back to basics and do some learning. If you speak at conferences, you have a personal brand, by definition. You stand in front of an audience, and they decide what they think about you, and you end up representing something. It’s a good idea to take some control over this “something”, and define a personal brand that actually makes sense for you. I have not done so, and I will not presume to tell you how to do it.

Instead, as a change to our usual content, I include three talks this week on the subject of personal branding. There’s a lot of good advice out there—these talks are the best ones that I discovered. I won’t comment on them because I’m still assimilating the information. This newsletter is the first part of building a speaker community (and a startup to fund it) that can help speakers with this sort of thing. Certainly, I hope to build tools that can help speakers with tasks like personal branding—but I’ll need to figure it out myself first!

In the early days of this newsletter I put together some useful content that was not read by many people, as the number of readers was pretty small (there are 500 of you now!). I’m going to slowly start republishing this content on an irregular basis. If you’ve just subscribed, this means you won’t miss out on some great stuff. If you’ve been with me from the start, I hope you don’t mind—and perhaps you’ll see something you passed on the first time.

Can I ask you for a favor? If you enjoy this newsletter, and if you find it useful, please consider recommending it to a friend who is learning to give technical talks, or who aspires to do so. I meet so many cool programmers who have brilliant things to share with the world—that’s you!

Please help me to improve this newsletter – I’d love to hear your suggestions! You can email me directly: richard@metsitaba.com. You can tweet too: @metsitaba. Thank you so much for reading!

A special thanks and shout out to Tammy and Cora for helping to make this newsletter even better!


Three Speakers

Tai Tran
Designing a purposeful personal brand from zero to infinity [V]

“…How do you carve a place out for yourself in this universe AND maintain that light that makes you… You? An expert marketer shares his perspective on constructing a unique identity for yourself…”

Ann Bastianelli
Powerful Personal Branding [V]

“…Pulling from personal experience as a professor at the IU Kelley School of Business as well as her time working with Coach Bob Knight, Ann Bastianelli explains that marketing principles of big brand companies are applicable to building one’s personal brand. Ms. Bastianelli asks us to consider how we are unique and what we have to offer…”

Jenni Flinders
Own Your Personal Brand [V]

“…Few would argue that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Certainly not Jenni Flinders. A former Microsoft executive, Flinders looks through the lens of her personal experience to demonstrate the importance of expressing your personal brand…”

Learn from the best

How to Build Your Reputation
Rob Brown

If you want something, you have to make it happen by constructing it. Things don’t happen by magic. You can always use a systematic approach to make things happen, which is what this book provides for your reputation.

Once you’ve got over your hangups about building a personal brand as a speaker, you’ll want to actually go about making that brand happen. The premise of this book is that you have to start by defining your unique position. You have to find something that makes you different. This is the seed that you then use to apply a set of practical reputation building strategies. You also have to realize that this is not a finite project, but something you work on for the rest of your professional life.

Rob Brown, the author, is also of course, a great speaker.

Making Peace with Personal Branding
Rachel Thomas

“…Personal branding sounds icky if you think of it as a shallow popularity contest, or of trying to trick people to click on links they don’t really want to click on. However, I now think about it as wanting people to know about high-quality work that I’m proud of and care about…”

Three Conferences


SXSW Conference & Festivals celebrate the creative convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries during ten days of sessions, screenings, showcases, exhibitions, parties, art installations, and networking. There’s so much to see and do, with surprises around every corner, so be sure to map out your agenda and don’t forget the tacos! You’re in Austin after all!

Adobe Summit

Six tracks, over 250 sessions and hands-on labs – that’s one busy summit! Whether you’re new to digital marketing or highly experienced, you’ll gain valuable insights, tools, and techniques for building campaigns, managing advertising and gaining data insights. When it’s all done, take a stroll down the Las Vegas strip and catch a show or two!

Future Tech Now

Future Tech Now & Virtual Reality Show is a three-day event that includes demos, an expo, and a conference, allowing you to experience VR technology first-hand. The tickets are quite flexible too, so you’re able to choose what areas you’d like to attend. If you want it all, the VIP ticket is for you.

CFP Calendar

These are the CFP deadline dates and submission pages.