The metsitaba newsletter for tech speakers, 02 Mar 2018

When you submit a talk proposal to a conference Call for Papers system, you usually have to fill out a form of one sort or another. These forms as you for your talk title and abstract, and your biographical details as a speaker. If you’re lucky you can upload your profile photo too, and won’t have to have a separate email back-and-forth about that.

If you’ve followed the CFP links from the Call for Papers section at the bottom of this newsletter, then you’ve seen examples of these forms. In particular does a great job on these.

But they are still a pain. And they’re different for every conference. I’m secretly delighted when a conference has not set up an online form for their CFP. It means I can send in my pre-prepared “talk info sheet”. This is a PDF document that I write for each talk that contains all the details a conference organizer needs. Many times I will be cheeky, ignore the CFP form, and just send in my PDF – a big time saver (sorry organizers!). This doesn’t work where you still need to be assessed by a committee, but if you’ve been invited to give a talk, then it’s much quicker for both you and the organizer to have all our details already prepared – no email tag!

To give you an idea of how to put a talk info sheet together, I’m going to show you a real one that I wrote up this week. I’m speaking by invitation at a conference in Cluj in Romania in April: – here is the talk info sheet by section:

The header just reminds the organizer who you are – people are busy, so it’s courtesy to give them context. Also, I include my contact details, because there will always be a few emails.

Speaker: Richard Rodger
Full contact details, bio and photos are below.

Next, the talk details. You should provide a title and a sub-title. This gives the organizer options for their promotional material. You want to make things as simple as possible for everybody. You’ll also need the talk abstract. This is meant to entice people to buy tickets to the conference, and to make them choose your talk if it’s a multiple track event. So make it upbeat!

Title: The Algebra of Microservices
Subtitle: How to build big things out of little things

The microservice architecture has become an established and powerful way to structure large scale systems, providing a component model that scales both at the human and system levels. It is by nature an architecture that has lots of small parts. And it’s easy to make a big mess with lots of little parts.
That’s why we need an algebra—a set of rules for combining microservices together to build big systems. How is this different from design patterns? Design patterns are Babylonian mathematics (where we get our 360 degree circles from!), powerful, but ultimately just a list of problems with sample solutions. What you really need is a set of axioms to solve any problem. That’s an algebra!

Organizers needs to schedule your talk, so give them options here too. Your talk should be available in different versions – some shorter and some longer. You should also indicate if you have a demo, and whether you can handle questions. This gives the organizer lots of wiggle room to schedule their agenda. It also lets them know that you are a flexible speaker that can fill gaps, or cut things short as needed. Most speakers can’t do this, and organizers really appreciate professionals who can put the needs of the conference and the attendees first.

Length: 20/40/60 minutes
Demo: (optional, requires more time) sample code to show the axioms used to combine microservices.
Questions: (optional) 10/15/20 minutes

Now you get to say what you want or need. This will be up to you. Try to cover both technical aspects (e.g. your talk includes a video – this is good for the A/V people to know in advance), and supports that make you comfortable (e.g. fresh water bottle). I’m lucky enough to be in good health and amenable to all food types, but if you do have special dietary needs, it’s good to make them known here too.

The timing on this talk has been rehearsed and can be adjusted as needed.
The presentation slide deck for this talk does not contain animation or sound. There are no special requirements. The slide deck can be made available in advance, in PDF or Keynote format.
A speaker display (for timing and notes) is preferred, but not necessary.
A handheld clicker is preferred but not necessary.
Presentation from my own MacBook laptop is preferred, but not necessary. However, I will need to use my own machine if giving the demo.

Finally, you need to provide a bio and good quality large format profile photo (I’ll spare you that in this newsletter!). These will be used on the conference website to attract attendees and are really important. Organizers are literally crying into their beverages the world over right now as you read this because they have to write up yet another speaker profile themselves. Be a mensch and do the decent thing. You have to get past the cringe factor—conference tickets do not sell themselves!

Speaker Profile: Richard Rodger
@rjrodger /

Richard Rodger is the author of The Tao of Microservices, a new book from Manning focused on the design and management of microservice architectures. Richard is the host of the Dublin Microservices Meetup, and the maintainer of the open source microservice framework. His first book Mobile Application Development in the Cloud (Wiley, 2010) is one of the first major works on the intersection of Node.js, Cloud, and Mobile.
Richard Rodger is curator of the Metsitaba Newsletter for tech conference speakers. He is the founder and CEO of, a professional network and tool suite for speakers and event organizers. Built using microservices, of course!
Richard was previously a co-founder and COO of, the world’s largest specialist Node.js consultancy delivering next-generation enterprise software, with a focus on Node.js and microservices. Before that, Richard was the CTO of FeedHenry, a mobile application platform provider that was acquired by RedHat in 2014.
Richard holds degrees in Mathematics, Philosophy, and Computer Science.

I guess including my own bio is sort of blatant self-promotion, and I did think twice about it. The thing is, if you haven’t written one before, it’s useful for you to see an actual speaker bio. So on balance I think it’s probably OK, but sorry anyway. This is not meant to be a commercial newsletter, so try to consider it “ironic”.

And that’s all you need for a talk info sheet. Save as a PDF and you’re done. Organizers will thank you. And even if you have to fill out a form anyway, it’s going to be a cut-and-paste exercise, so that will be faster too.

Tell me…

What is your biggest challenge as a tech speaker?

This newsletter is for you. I want it to include hints, tips and strategies that resonate with you.

So go ahead, hit reply and tell me what you find challenging as a speaker.

Email me at You can tweet too: @metsitaba.

I w
ill address the most pressing issues in each edition.

Thursday, March 15th 2018

This newsletter (and our company) will be supporting and hosting a World Speech Day event in Ireland on March 15th. This is a global event taking place in over 80 countries worldwide on the same day and celebrates the art of public speaking by hosting and supporting the voices of new speakers and young people all over the world.

Volunteers Needed!
If you’d like to participate, we’re looking for volunteers to help make this community event happen. We need people to help with preparation, as well as participate on the night of the 15th. Everybody is welcome.

A favour…

Can I ask you for a favour? 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: You can tweet too: @metsitaba. Thank you so much for reading!

A special thanks and shout out to TammyCora, and David for helping to make this newsletter even better!


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Speaker Profile

Creator of Grey’s Anatomy, amongst other popular shows, Shonda Rhimes talks about changing your perspective and attitude to say “yes” to everything. She connects to the audience on a personal level, showing a vulnerability in admitting her insecurities and how saying yes changes everything.

A clear, personable and warm delivery have her audience hanging on to every word, ready to take action of their own. I think we can all relate to the experiences she shares and that’s what makes this so brilliant.

Learn from the best

Have you ever heard Will Smith speak? Besides being a master of comedy, he brings an energy to the stage that is personal and intimate. It’s as if he’s speaking directly to you and only you. He makes eye contact, he puts the audience at ease, he speaks from experience, and he tells the story with such excitement the audience can’t help but want to listen.

If he’s this excited, it must be good stuff, right? You can relate…and that’s the secret: common ground.

This book is well put together and could be a tech speakers best friend.  Using this book will help the tech conference speaker to plan, create and deliver powerful professional presentations.  It’s well written and the recipe style makes it memorable and easy to apply to your own future presentations, giving you the speaker more confidence in your abilities.  This is your recipe book, but it’s up to you to bake the cake.

The following twitter page for the book offers quick tips for presentations: Presentation Patterns.

We all know that networking is a major key to success, and conferences are an amazing place to do it. All the important industry players from all over the world are there—in one city, in one building. You would be a fool not to take advantage of the opportunity to meet as many of these people as possible. Of course you can buy a conference pass, make laps around the networking happy hours—shaking hands and giving your elevator pitch on repeat. But there is a better way.

What if I told you that you could introduce yourself to everyone there at once? You can, by becoming a speaker.

Read full article.

Three Conferences


Join the ReactJS community for a one day open-source, single track conference at the historic and unique Proud Camden venue in London. An event by the community, for the community, the agenda will host regular and lightning talks covering various React.JS and FE topics, including React Native, GraphQL, VR/AR, Redux, Preact and more. Arrive a day early to attend workshops and be sure to join the afterparty at the end of the conference.

Women Techmakers Montreal

Women Techmakers is a program created and hosted by Google to celebrate International Women’s Day and highlight the talented women in technology. This is the third edition and is part of The Women Techmakers Global Event Series and focuses on promoting and empowering talented and passionate women in technology.

NERD Summit 2018

The New England Regional Developers hold a free annual Summit for a day of talks, workshops, coding challenges, food, and fun! It’s about bringing the community together and providing opportunities to learn and collaborate in a supportive and positive environment. What are you waiting for? Be A Nerd!

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CFP Calendar

These are the CFP deadline dates and submission pages.

What’s in a name?

We are changing our name! I came up with the name metsitaba and started using it without really testing it on other people. Turns out it’s pretty hard to spell, and thus sucks as a name. In true startup fashion, we’re “pivoting” to a new name. The transition will take a few weeks, as we need to update our website and all that stuff. I wrote a newspaper article about the whole thing if you want more background.

The mission of this newsletter remains the same: for speakers, by speakers, growing a community to help each other become better at delivering technical conference talks, and supporting the growing acceptance of diversity in technology.

I also wanted to write a note about your personal data. To send you this newsletter we need your name (so we can be polite) and email address (so we can delivery it). You’ve trusted us with that information, and all you signed up for was a newsletter, so that’s the only thing we’ll do with that information. A lot of startups have “newsletters” that are just sales pitches. I hope you can tell from the content of this newsletter that we don’t think that is cool or useful for people. This is a newsletter about public speaking, and it’s the newsletter I wish I could have read when I was just starting out giving talks.