My first public speaking experience

Talk web conference 2015
Image by prisca schmarsow

I love attending conferences; I have always found them very informative and inspiring. I love meeting new people in the industry and I love learning from them.

On Thursday last week, I attended Talk Web Design. This wasn't like any other conference for me because for the first time ever, I attended as a speaker.

Talk Web Design is a conference held at Greenwich University for web students from any University. There were students from undergraduate and postgraduate courses and quite a few teachers due to Web Teaching Day being on the following day.

I was pleased to be up first as the line up of speakers was excellent – I'm glad I didn't have to follow any of them! I think the students were lucky to have talks from so many fantastic, knowledgable people in the web industry.

I kicked the day off with a talk called 'Becoming a front-end developer'. This was all about my journey from Brighton University to Clearleft, how I created opportunities to get into the industry and how much I have learnt so far. It was an easy talk to write because it was all about my personal journey and experiences.

I didn't expect my talk to be particularly interesting to anyone because it's just my journey. It wasn't about an exciting technology, or how to design and build for the web. So, I was surprised by the response. Turns out people found it useful to hear how students can create opportunities for themselves whilst they are at University. I also thought it was great that some of the attendees felt that it would inspire more students, so I have been asked to give similar talks at other Universities. I would love to do that.

I feel passionate about the education of web development because I don't think every student gets the best of it at the moment. I wonder how we can change that. I think courses could be changed to make them more relevant to the industry. Maybe work placements should be mandatory. Perhaps there's a different way to inspire students to get out there and gain industry experience around their studies. University taught me to learn independently, helped me discover my passions and gave me the time to study them. But I feel that industry experience was key to the success of my final project and getting jobs as a graduate. I benefitted hugely from learning in both environments.

I still can't quite believe I did it. Speaking in front of an audience was a scary prospect for me, something I've managed to avoid until now. Mainly because I don't like the focus of attention being on me. There are things I'd do better next time, but as I said in my talk, that's what learning is all about. So this feels like quite an achievement. I didn't expect to enjoy it, but I really did and I can't wait to do it again.

I was lucky enough to be able to rehearse the presentation with my mentor Jeremy, who happens to have a lot of experience in public speaking. He must have been bored of hearing it by the time we got to the real thing! I'm grateful to have his help and advice when I'm learning at Clearleft.

You know what? I'm extremely grateful for every opportunity I've had since I started my journey at University five years ago. For me, University wasn't just for learning or to get a job; it was an opportunity to turn my life around. I think it's safe to say that the hard work I put into it has paid off. Now I'm super excited for the next five years. And here's to a new challenge: Becoming a public speaker.