My first experience as a speaker
This is a story about how I got my first shot at public speaking/teaching. I was in 5th semester back then, the college has just reopened and the clubs were gearing up to attract the new students to join as members. I had just spent majority of my 4th semester trying to learn this awesome language called Python, the Flask framework to be more precise. I had created a few projects, which I thought were unimpressive, but my seniors who ran a student’s chapter of a club called Computer Society of India found them pretty interesting!
They wanted me to start a lecture series about python. Naturally I was a bit nervous and initially declined the offer, but they insisted and somehow I made up my mind to do it. To be really honest it felt like a very bad idea to me at that time, but now when I look back I realize that that one decision changed a lot of things for me.
The preparations were in full swing. We had created a Google form for registrations. We went from class to class to publicize this event. We used social media as well for publicity. We received about 80 to 90 registrations, and hence we booked an auditorium with a capacity of about 60 people, because that’s the general ratio, and I was quite prepared for that amount of audience.
It was a hands on session, so I sent an email with a few instructions. I had a couple of flash drives loaded with the required software. I had decided against using a PPT and decided to code then and there along with the participants.
Then came the D day! The stage was set, and I was prepared. I was running late but we had a few volunteers handling the crowd. As soon as I reached the auditorium one of the volunteers told me that around 70 people have already arrived and more students are coming. I was shocked a bit, but still I went in, tested the projector and sound systems and went to the canteen to grab a quick byte.
By the time I came back everyone had arrived. As soon as I stepped into the auditorium I was completely overwhelmed. People had turned up in large numbers. There was a scarcity of chairs. Some students were even perched on the ledges, all with their laptops ready and eagerly waiting for me to begin.
I was utterly speechless. I never anticipated such a huge crowd. With sweaty palms and shaky legs I began my 2 hour long tirade on what Python is and how to approach it as a beginner.
I then went on to conduct 4 more sessions on topics ranging from advanced features of Python to the Flask framework to web scraping using Python. We held a HackerRank contest as well as a session on developing command line apps.
The lecture series ran from July, 2018 to October, 2018.
In hindsight this experience gave me a lot of confidence in communicating my thoughts and ideas. I learned how to gauge the level of interest of the audience from their body language, which is something very valuable during face-to-face team meetings. I also became more receptive to constructive criticism and started looking at my ideas and solutions from multiple perspectives!