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Presenting At CSTA 2020

Presenting at CSTA 2020

I noticed a few tweets and posts from people announcing that they'd be presenting at CSTA2020 - the big computer science teachers conference held every July.

A common thread in a few of these were trepidation's presenters. Excited to be doing this but nervous.

It's interesting that teachers, myself included, sometimes get nervous before presentations even though we present every day as part of our jobs. I know it's different as we have the same kids every day but even day 1 jitters each semester aren't the same as the presentation anxiety that some of us face.

I'm certainly not a super master seasoned presenter. I've done it a few times at CSTA and other venues and this year JonAlf and I will be running a GitHub workshop but I thought I'd share some words of encouragement anyway.

You're really just talking shop.

Basically, you're a teacher talking about teaching and I think we all love to do that.

It's an audience of friends

CSTA is a conference primarily of teachers - our colleague.s Everyone coming to your session is already interested in your opinion and going in as a supportive audience. They want to hear from you.

I'll go back to the previous point - you're basically talking shop with friends.

CSTA still feels intimate

In spite of its rapid growth, the CSTA conference still feels intimate. It's not a huge conference where you can attend a talk or meet someone at breakfast and never find them again. It's big enough so that you can avoid anyone you want to dodge but you can pretty much find time to spend with anyone you want to as well. This can turn your talk more into a starting point for a longer convesation - how cool is that.

Don't forget to enjoy it

I used to get really nervous when giving LARGE talks - we're talking to an audience of one or two thousand. I've only done that a few times. A couple of times at the New York Tech Meetup and once when I was the faculty graduation speaker at Stuy when my best friend was the guest speaker and my daughter was in the graduating class.

I was pretty nervous before I hit the stage at Stuy when a colleague gave me some great advice - "take the time to enjoy the moment." I remembered that just as I said above - I was about to talk to friends. Two thousand of them, but friends nonetheless. I was reminded to slow down and take it in. Enjoy the moment. I've tried to do that with any presentation I've given since.

Final thoughts

As a final thought I'll leave you by paraphrasing something that I think was said by Pinchas Zuckerman - the world class violist and violinist (who I think also used to wear a shirt proclaiming "I vibrato when I play baroque - Deal with it!!!!!).

He said that you should always be smiling when you're performing. Either your performance is going well and you're creating beautiful music or it's going horribly but it will be over soon. :-)

Already looking forward to July.

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