What does it take to go from being an attentive listener at a tech conference to the person up front, speaking confidently to the audience? What road takes you between these two roles? In recent years, I’ve had the opportunity to experience this journey for myself thanks to the Python Web Conference (PWC).
About Python Web Conference (PWC)
PWC is the most in-depth Python conference for web developers, organized by Six Feet Up, a Python and cloud expert consulting company that makes the world a better place by accelerating the impact of tech leaders. This year marked its fifth annual edition, during which hundreds of professionals gathered over a week to engage in discussions, learn, and share knowledge while building community. PWC 2023 featured sessions for mid-level and advanced developers alike, with international experts sharing cutting-edge presentations on topics including big data, cloud native, lean software, development, and beyond.
In 2020, I first got the chance to attend PWC virtually, finding a vibrant community that grew and developed during the pandemic years (especially the IndyPy and IndyHackers communities). At the end of the conference, they invited me to return the following year to give a talk and share my insights and experiences.
From Conference Attendee to Speaker
As a site reliability engineer (SRE), developing is not my main focus, but I have always considered myself a developer first. I see site reliability engineering as a natural evolution of development efforts, with SREs being vital to guarantee the availability and security of our systems.
So, with my knowledge and experience, what could I talk about at a conference of Python experts?
First, I decided I wanted to share my experience using the AWS Boto3 Python library to manage cloud infrastructures. I also wanted to discuss how to develop systems not only to create new infrastructure, but to manage and extract information in an automated way – what we in the development world call “Day 2 operations.”
I proposed the topic, and I was very glad that they accepted me as a speaker even though English is not my primary language. They helped me prepare, and I’m happy to say that it was a success, as my talk was among the five sessions with the most views that year. You can watch my talk from PWC 2021 here.
The following year (2022), I gave a talk about using Pandas to automate spreadsheet data analysis, which you can watch here.
Finally, for this year’s edition (2023), I decided to talk about the use of artificial intelligence cloud services in our applications. (The recorded version will be available for free in a couple of months.)
I plan to maintain my participation in this conference for many years, as it has given me very valuable opportunities to share and expand my knowledge.
My Recommendations for Future Speakers
Be brave, bold, and resolute. Learn by doing, and you’ll keep improving time after time. Practice giving talks and tutorials, find the work you are most proud of, prepare your story, and share it with conference attendees and user groups for which the subject matter will be relevant.
If you have the opportunity to become a speaker, trust me that it is easier than it looks. Plus, it gets even easier as you gain more and more experience.
Dare to do it. You won’t regret it!
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