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One of the things we try every day to focus on at voxgig is flexible work practices and family friendliness. This week we’ve had a tailor-made opportunity to test ourselves on this front, in the form of something very tiny that can have a very big effect on business: bacteria. Our newsletter curator has been struggling with a lingering illness for a few weeks. Illness can strike at the most inconvenient of times. But it doesn’t have to be a disaster. Working from home and thinking outside the box, she realized that now, after over a year of this newsletter’s existence, many of our newer readers will not have had the opportunity to read the content in our earlier issues. So this week, we share with you selected content from the early days. Enjoy!


When you start giving public talks on technology as a software developer, you quickly run into the problem of what to talk about. If you’re lucky, your company will allow you to discuss internal technical architecture—many companies do this as it helps with recruitment. Or you pick up a new platform and introduce it to people (this is what I did with Node.js back in 2011/12).

Both of those wells soon run dry. You can only discuss your company systems to a certain depth, and eventually, most people learn about new tech as it becomes mainstream. Where do you find a sustainable source of talk topics?

One way is to participate as a contributor to the open source community. Your contribution does not necessarily have to be in code. You can make a project better in many other ways. Nor do you have to join an existing project. You are perfectly free to start your own. Even small projects, just utility libraries, are still useful and give you something to talk about.

The easiest option, which I have used many times, is to build a demo. Show how to use some other open source system by creating a little app or integration, or even something that has no use beyond impressing your audience. This is still very valuable for everybody so long as you share the code and tell the story of how you built it.

Getting to the point where you are in front of an audience showing something of value takes courage certainly, but there’s a trick you can use to outwit your future procrastinating self. Commit to demonstrating something you have not yet built. This forces clarity. In the time you have remaining (perhaps a month, or a week), you must pare back the project to its essentials, and get something working. The act of doing this, removing unnecessary complexity and features, means you end up with a better project that is easier for your audience to understand.

I learnt this technique from Matteo Collina, who is a prodigious contributor to the open source community. He call’s it: “conference-driven development”, and it works!




Voxgig Podcast

Coming Soon… 

I am delighted to announce that  voxgig is starting a podcast series! The title of the series is ‘Fireside with voxgig’. In each podcast, I’ll be interviewing leading experts from the events industry.  The aim is to deliver high quality insights, valuable public speaking tips and enjoyable personal success stories, all in a relaxed, informal and chatty style. Keep an eye out here for the first podcast in the series, coming soon. 

Speaker Profile

Jennifer Pahika, screen shot from her Ted talk

Jennifer Pahlka
Coding a better government

Jennifer Pahlka is the founder of Code for America, a non-profit organization that builds software to make government work better. It’s a compelling mission, and in this talk, she outlines her thinking and explains the possibilities. If “software is eating the world” as the VC Marc Andreessen says, then it also has a responsibility to save the world.

As a speaker, this talk shows you how to deliver a high impact presentation without resorting to any gimmicks. There are no great rhetorical flourishes. There are no props. There are no cheap emotional hooks. Rather, this talk is constructed to flow very carefully and logically to a compelling and uplifting conclusion.

This is a good structure to use when you are communicating something new, something that has transformative potential. You are not presenting in opposition to something, or taking a position of advocacy in an existing fight. This style and careful manner work well when you want to introduce an open source project to an audience, or for the launching of a new project. Make a calm appeal to the intellect, and deliver it with careful pacing.

Learn from the Best

Grace Hopper
Explaining nanoseconds…This is a very short but wonderful extract from a talk given by Grace Hopper, one of the pioneers of computing. It’s an example of how you can use props to make your point, especially if you need to explain something highly technical. The accompanying article has many useful observations on her delivery style that you can apply to your own talks.

Tell me…

What is your biggest challenge as an event speaker?

This newsletter is for you. I want it to resonate with you.

So go ahead, hit reply, and tell me what you want to read about. Or email me at richard@voxgig.com. You can tweet too: @voxgig.

I’ll address the most pressing issues in each edition.

Blog Post

How talks affect an open source project

A data-driven article on the connection between open source project adoption and talks given about that project. Admittedly, these are major projects, but I think the premise still holds. I have certainly seen this correlation in my open source projects. Nothing beats a maintainer talking about their own project—you just can’t beat the passion.

Contributing to open source is one the best ways to get started as a technical speaker because it automatically gives you something that you can speak about credibly.

Three Conferences

Banner logo for PHP UK Conference

PHP UK Conference
February 20 – 22 2019

PHP UK is pleased to announce the 14th Annual PHP UK conference; a 2-day event with 3 great tracks held at The Brewery, in the heart of the city of London.

With over 700 delegates, speakers, and sponsors, PHP UK conference aims to deliver fantastic up-to-date content about PHP and related web technologies in a comfortable and professional setting. There are countless networking opportunities to engage with international speakers and delegates, which makes the event one you won’t want to miss.

Ruby on Ice Logo

Ruby on Ice
February 22 24 2019
TicketsSet against the backdrop of the beautiful Alps at lake Tegernsee, we welcome Rubyists from all over the world to gather, have fun in the snow and talk about the future of Ruby, Rails and related technologies in a single-track community-run conference.

ConFoo banner logo

March 13 – 15

ConFoo is the gold standard of software development conferences. The 2019 edition will take place from March 13th to March 15th 2019, at the Hotel Bonaventure in beautiful downtown Montreal. As always, we’ll have a stellar lineup of renown international speakers, new, innovative and surprising topics as well as great off-conference social gatherings.

Upcoming CFP Deadlines

Europe Appforum 2019, June, 04 – 06, CFP Deadline Dec. 31, Warsaw, Poland

ServerlessDays Cardiff, January 30, CFP Deadline, Cardiff, Wales, UK

Rubyfuza & Friends 2019, February 07 – 09, CFP Deadline, Cape Town, South Africa




Speaker Training

Speaker training is an essential investment for every business.  If you would like to discuss your corporate training needs, you can email richard@voxgig.com.  We will arrange training to suit your business.

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 at richard@voxgig.com. You can tweet too: @voxgig. Thank you so much for reading!

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


Thank you! Please let me know what you think!