What people expect to see at the conferences

As a public presenter, I always wonder what kind of presentation should I submit for tech conferences. Knowing what people want to hear about is always important to submit a good talk, and to give a good presentation once the talk is accepted by the conference. Here are some insights which I’ve collected from public feedback on conferences in 2016, and also a summary of my impressions and most common topics I’ve seen.

Feedback from audience

What’s preferred:

  • more technical, deep-dive topics (less soft talks and theory)
  • live coding
  • practical talks
  • if talks on the same topic, they should build on each other and not overlap and it should be clear from their description
  • a presentation should be inspirational, should explain the “WHY”
  • give real examples for ideas, not only theory – show how it works
  • hints in the description about the level of knowledge (beginner (intro/basics), advanced (go deep…), or directly pinpoint language, area, level at the end of the description)

What’s not desired:

  • soft and high-level talks without deep-dive into details
  • microservices
  • focus on specific product/library/tool (when talking about products, then just for a demonstration if it’s relevant and interesting)
  • when talk content does not match the description
  • lengthy theoretical introductions (should go into details quickly)
  • when a talk is similar to a blog post, a tutorial, or anything found on the internet

My impressions

Most common topics:

  • Java 9, HTTP/2, Microservices and Cloud
  • Reactive applications, functional programming, Docker and Kubernetes
  • Other interesting topics that may be covered more in next years: artificial intelligence in the cloud, serverless platforms, optimizations in the JVM (IBM Watson, AWS Lambda, GraalVM, … ).
  • Java frameworks and tools: Java EE, Spring, Akka and Netflix opensource stack (eureka, ribbon, etc.)

My impressions:

  • I like when presenter can speak enthusiastically, though slowly and easy to follow
  • Speaking fast is not good, especially when native speakers talk (hard to follow for non-natives)
  • There should be a clear message – it is hard to remember more than 2-3 ideas from a single talk
  • Information about what doesn’t work is important (if it’s a common gotcha), but also a solution should follow

Sources: Øredev session feedback 2016

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