Fun Projects, Performance, Thoughts

What Happens Pre Talk

Panic, that’s what happens.

When Terry mentioned that there was a last minute spot for speaking at Confoo and asked for volunteers, I thought, com’on, you can do this. Just press that damn “Send Message” button. I don’t know if I will be a programmer for life, but public speaking will be something worth doing at least once in a lifetime. And with other careers, there might not be a lot of chances to do a talk. Programmers do host a hell lot of conferences.

Immediately after I gave the yes, I started panicking.

I chose the topic “Front End Performance Optimisation”, not because I was already an expert through and through, but because I had always been fascinated by the topic, yet never had a torturously necessary chance being forced to use the skill somewhere, so I never had to dig too deep into it. Knowing the basics to do some poking around had always worked, up to this point.

I had to whip up a 30 minute presentation on this dark matter of a topic, and I only had 2 weeks.

I spent the beginning 2 or 3 days doing nothing but researching everything to do with frontend performances. The more I learned, the more I was awed by how much more I still don’t know. After a couple of days, I started creating clumsy slides.

For the first week, the stress came from the uncertainty. I wasn’t sure that I would have enough time to learn all about performance; I wasn’t sure I could finish the slides; and I knew I definitely wanted to demo, because that was what was most helpful for learning, but I didn’t even know where to start.

The real panic struck me in the middle of the second week. I had left at least half the content time to demoing, and I couldn’t figure out how to conjure up 2 demos that actually work. I went swimming that night, thinking I’d got up early and figure the heck out of it. I got up next morning at 6, grand in my chair in the dark dawn of Vancouver morning for 2 hours and got nowhere. After digging myself out from the pile of panics, I messaged my colleagues asking for help. I got into the office, we put our heads together in a meeting room and tried to go through things slowly and find out what went wrong. Finally we managed to make one of them work.

By the end of Wednesday, I finally had 2 demos, without knowing how to go through them in a way that would be of most help to people, in an easy to understand way. Even so, no matter what state my preparation was in, I did mock go-throughs with different groups of colleagues on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday afternoons, got feedbacks from them and worked on them the next morning. By the time I did 2 go-throughs Friday afternoon, at least I wasn’t sweating myself to death anymore.

Finally, the last 3 days.

Final round of addressing feedback Saturday, and I’ll be off to skiing at Cypress Sunday morning. Hopefully when I got home after, I would be exhausted enough to fall asleep at night.

See y’all Monday morning, and hopefully you can learn something from my talk.

I certainly did.

I’ll be writing up another post after the talk, for all the things that I learned on Frontend performance 😉