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At the last AWS reInvent 2022, I was able to speak in Dev Chat under the Community track for the first time. I talked about one of my projects - a Smart doorbell with AWS Serverless. This post explains my experience as a first time Dev Chats speaker.
This post is on specifically my own experience and yours and/or other speakers’ experience may vary.
I got this opportunity being a member of the AWS Community Builders program. Please read more about the program here: https://aws.amazon.com/developer/community/community-builders/
Before the reInvent #
In the month of June 2022, Jason Dunn, the AWS Community Builders Program Manager has sent a message to AWS Community Builders’ Slack, stating that the CFP is open for the talks under community track at reInvent 2022. I decided to submit an application for my project - Smart doorbell with AWS Serverless for a Dev Chat which is a 30 minute talk.
In mid August, I received an email from Shantavia Craigg, AWS Developer Event Program Manager with the confirmation of my Dev Chat session approval.
After that, the preparations started!
Slides deck preparation #
AWS has provided a PowerPoint theme, styles and guideline as to how to prepare the slides. This includes the font, font size, colors and any image specific guidelines. Since all the sessions in reInvent are public, all the material that goes into the slides will be verified by the AWS events copy editing team.
It was required to prepare the slides deck as soon as possible and submit it for review. Once submitted, the copy editing team will review the slides and if any modifications are required, those need to be adjusted and submitted again for review.
Once the slides deck is approved, that will be the version going to be presented and no more modifications are allowed. However, if there is any critical update required, you can request them at the Speaker Ready Room session at the reInvent campus.
Know Before You Go Webinar #
In order to provide information on what we can expect at reInvent as a speaker, there were a couple of webinars arranged by AWS. Those were named as Know Before You Go webinars, which were conducted by AWS Global Events Team.
These webinars were really useful for me, as this was my first time at reInvent.
Speaking Coaching Session #
Another great opportunity I had in this process is to have access to a speaking coach to rehearse my talk. There were limited speaking coaching sessions available to book online as well as within reInvent campus. I booked an online session which was for 60 minutes.
I had this session with Blaine Sundrud, Senior Global Public Speaking Coach at AWS. This was my first experience interacting with a speaking coach and I was really amazed by the input he has given. First, I presented my talk to him and he provided me with some great tips on how to improve the talk. Also, he even suggested some modifications to the slides in order to make the whole story much clearer to the audience. Also, since there was a demo I prepared in the talk, he had some great tips to improve user interaction.
If you are to present at an AWS event and there is a speaker coaching option, I highly recommend using that opportunity because that will definitely change how you present in public in a positive way!
At the reInvent Campus #
Speaker Ready Room #
Every speaker of reInvent should check-in to a Speaker Ready Room (SRR). This should be done at least 4 hours before the talk. This way, event managers will get to know that the speaker is present in the reInvent campus. It is recommended to book a time slot for SRR even though few walk-ins are also available.
There are few things that happen in the SRR. First, speakers can go through their presentation slides deck and verify the contents for one last time before the presentation with a Copy Editor. It is possible to do some minor modifications to the slides with the help of the Copy Editor too.
Next, you can do a “Tech Check” in the same SRR. Here, you can check how your slides are visible to the audience. Also, you will be given a quick walk through on how the sound devices, pointing devices work, how switching between slide deck and your computer or any other devices (if applicable) can be done etc. Also, if you need wifi connections to your additional devices, that can be arranged in SRR.
For those who prefer in-house speaker training, this is also available with a reservation at the SRR.
Once everything is finalised at the SRR, you are ready for the talk.
The Talk #
My talk was scheduled on Wednesday at 4 PM and I had to be at the Dev Lounge in the Expo area half an hour before. This was to make sure everything was set up correctly. This included connecting my own laptop, internet connection to raspberry PI device (for the demo) and a quick test on audio visual units.
Dev Lounge is in the Expo area which is an open space. Since there are a lot of people, the place is always a bit noisy. Therefore the attendees were given headphones to listen into the talks.
I had a total of 30 minutes for my talk which includes the demo and a few questions and answers as well. Personally I had a great time presenting my project and got nice feedback as well. Thanks a lot to the attendees who decided to be there for my talk.
After the reInvent #
Soon after the reInvent, next Monday I received the feedback about my sessions based on the attendees’ survey. Which was quite fast and very helpful for me as a speaker.
I got this opportunity to be a part of the AWS Community Builders program. So, I would like to thank AWS Community Builders Program Manager Jason Dunn (@jasondunn), and the team (sorry, there’s too many people to mention here individually) for the opportunity which definitely helps me to continue what I do!
Overall, I feel the whole process was well organised with highly attention to details. Even though I am a first time speaker at reInvent, I was comfortable going through this whole process because of all the support I was given from all the people I interacted with. Thanks a lot everyone involved in organising this amazon event.
Thank you AWS for the great experience.