The metsitaba newsletter for tech speakers, 23 Feb 2018

The metsitaba newsletter for tech speakers, 23 Feb 2018

Should you play guitar during your talk?

This is a serious question! If you’ve got the talent, why not use it? Your talk will certainly be “talked about”.

Now, I’m not entirely a fan of gimmicks when it comes to conference talks. For one thing, your audience is there to listen to your technical wisdom, not your party piece. For another, part of the skill of public speaking is to engage the audience with your voice and your presence only.

And yet, I have been at conferences where speakers have pulled out a guitar and successfully used it to enhance their performance. It’s light relief for the audience, and, when done well, quite memorable. You get extra points for writing a song about your technical topic. Or at least for synchronising the music with your slides.

Beware, though: this is not general advice. If, like me, you haven’t got a musical note in your body, then you’ll have to stay in the wings and watch others take the glory. But if you are good with a guitar, maybe you should consider grabbing your plectrum and strumming some chords for your lucky audience!

Here are the rules for techies with guitars:

1. Play for no more than three minutes. This is the length of an old 45-inch single, and about as much singing as your audience can put up with.

2. Be the only musician on the day. Please check that no other speakers are pulling this trick.

3. Have actual musical ability. No My Lovely Horse please!


Thursday, March 15th 2018

This newsletter (and our company) will be supporting and hosting a World Speech Day event in Ireland on March 15th. This is a global event taking place in over 80 countries worldwide on the same day and celebrates the art of public speaking by hosting and supporting the voices of new speakers and young people all over the world.

Volunteers Needed!
If you'd like to participate, we're looking for volunteers to help make this community event happen. We need people to help with preparation, as well as participate on the night of the 15th. Everybody is welcome.

Can I ask you for a favor? If you enjoy this newsletter, and if you find it useful, please consider recommending it to a friend who is learning to give technical talks, or who aspires to do so. I meet so many cool programmers who have brilliant things to share with the world—that’s you!

Please help me to improve this newsletter - I'd love to hear your suggestions! You can email me directly: You can tweet too: @metsitaba. Thank you so much for reading!

A special thanks and shout out to TammyCora, and David for helping to make this newsletter even better!



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Speaker Profile


The First 20 Hours - How to Learn Anything...[V]
Josh Kaufman

Josh has a personable way of talking to the audience and pulls them into his personal experience. And who doesn’t like babies? (Watch and you’ll see what I mean) Listen to the way he talks, his voice fluctuations, the gestures, eye contact, his facial expressions. They all lend to pulling the audience in and making them a real part of the story. He further breaks down the information into smaller bits, making it easy to follow. And props! Yes…props take it to another level when done well.

What’s great about this video is two fold: Josh demonstrates great speaking techniques, but also shares relevant information to learn anything, which also applies to speaking. “People get good at things with just a little bit of practice.” So how long does it take? Push play and enjoy the next 19 minutes. You’re welcome!

Learn from the best


"The Technical Journey to Microservices." [V]
Russ Miles

More props! Oh yeah! Russ throws in his props directly in the intro of his talk and piques the interest of his audience right off. He’s equipped with a guitar, a slide deck and a very curious audience. A little chit chat and he’s into his creative introduction, setting the tone for what is to come next. And he’s good at it too! He’s taken his talent and woven it into the structure of his presentation. Be sure to watch all the way through for a surprise ending!



The Back of the Napkin
Dan Roam

Every time we stand on stage we are selling, an idea, a concept or a new way of doing things; reading this book is a must for the procrastinator that’s great with spreadsheets, now you get to procrastinate in images too.  All jokes aside, this is a great book to develop your visuals.

Full review.

Why Oprah’s talk works: Insight from a TED speaker coach. [blog]
Abigail Tenembaum & Michael Weitz

"It was powerful, memorable and somehow exactly what the world wanted to hear. It inspired multiple standing O’s — and even a semi-serious Twitter campaign to elect her president #oprah2020. All this in 9 short minutes.."

Read full article.

Three Conferences



An idea that came up over dinner in 2011 became a reality with the first ScaleConf in 2012. Six years later, ScaleConf is going strong, bringing international and local experts together to share their experiences with scaling websites and services. This year, the event takes place at the beautiful Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, boasting the reputation of the most beautiful garden in Africa and one of the greatest in the world!


VidCon Europe

“The premier event for industry leaders and aspiring creators.” If you’re a creator, brand strategist, business owner or marketer, start packing your bags for a jaunt over to The Dam...Amsterdam, that is! VidCon Europe offers both a creator track and an industry track. Top online video creators, platform execs, growth hackers and experts come together in Amsterdam to share their expertise to help you develop and grow your business.



New technologies and industry trends, along with mobile, cloud, and big data best practices await you at DecompileD 2018. Plenty of opportunities for networking, brainstorming and sharing your experiences are built in throughout the conference, as are joint workshops. Dresden, Germany sits on the banks of the river Elbe, with a bounty of forests, gardens and parks to explore, along with a rich cultural and artistic history.

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CFP Calendar

These are the CFP deadline dates and submission pages. 



What's in a name?

We are changing our name! I came up with the name metsitaba and started using it without really testing it on other people. Turns out it’s pretty hard to spell, and thus sucks as a name. In true startup fashion, we’re “pivoting” to a new name. The transition will take a few weeks, as we need to update our website and all that stuff. I wrote a newspaper article about the whole thing if you want more background.

The mission of this newsletter remains the same: for speakers, by speakers, growing a community to help each other become better at delivering technical conference talks, and supporting the growing acceptance of diversity in technology.

I also wanted to write a note about your personal data. To send you this newsletter we need your name (so we can be polite) and email address (so we can delivery it). You’ve trusted us with that information, and all you signed up for was a newsletter, so that’s the only thing we’ll do with that information. A lot of startups have “newsletters” that are just sales pitches. I hope you can tell from the content of this newsletter that we don’t think that is cool or useful for people. This is a newsletter about public speaking, and it’s the newsletter I wish I could have read when I was just starting out giving talks.