Submitting talks for the NI Developer Conference

Following up from the NIDC launch event on Friday night, it seems there’s some confusion about what sort of talks we’re looking for and what should go in the talk synopsis when you’re submitting. In particular, some people are deciding not to submit talks on the (incorrect) assumption that theythey’re technical enough, or just because they don’t know what to fill in on the submission form. So here’s my take on it.

What sort of talks are suitable?

Anything that developers will find interesting! Basically, if you bring along your company marketing slides you’ll get Hard Stares. Anything else is fair game.

We’ll have a very wide range of developers attending, from students all the way up to decades of experience, across a wide variety of tech stacks, and a few won’t even be developers at all, they just work with them. Your talk should be able to address a decent cross-section.

Certainly there will be plenty of technical talks, but since we’re not focused on any particular area we don’t necessarily need super deep dives and we’re not expecting you to be a world-leading subject matter expert. If you’re talking tech, we’re probably going to be more interested in hearing why it scratches your particular itches and how everything hangs together.

On the other hand, some of the most popular talks last year weren’t even about tech at all. A few subjects that spring to mind that could be suitable are:

  • Career development
  • User Experience
  • History and background
  • Dealing with other teams (QA, product, etc) for mutual benefit
  • Diversity
  • Approaches to learning

Honestly, if you think your subject is interesting then the chances are somebody else will too. Don’t decide not to submit a talk just because you don’t think it’s suitable. That’s what the panel’s for! And if you can’t decide between several subjects, submit them all.

What should I put in the talk synopsis?

You can’t go wrong with two or three paragraphs describing the story you’ll be telling and then a final paragraph explaining what you’re hoping the audience will learn.

If in doubt, put in more information rather than less. The synopsis can always be edited down once your talk’s been accepted, but the panel can’t work on information they don’t have.

Don’t forget lightning talks

If you’re still not sure, don’t forget you can submit lightning talks as well as full (30 minute) talks. If you can get your point across in 5-10 minutes then why not?

Hopefully that clears things up a bit. Now get your talks submitted before the end of Tuesday!