How I Became a Tech Conference Speaker as a Newbie & How You Can Do It Too

How I Became a Tech Conference Speaker as a Newbie & How You Can Do It Too

How it started, How it's going and How you can do it too!

Aug 24, 2023ยท

6 min read

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Hello beautiful people, ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธ

I recently asked you on Twitter: "what kind of articles would you like to read by me" and one of the answers was "from coder to public speaker". Since I get this question quite often in DMs or in in-person conversations, I thought to publicly share it here too.

How It Started

It all started on the last day of December 2017 when I wrote this article. ๐Ÿ‘‡

Or should I say even earlier, when I took part in the challenge #100DaysOfCode (31 December 2016).

Ok, let's start again!

My 1st time

On the last day of 2017, I published an article on Medium where I shared my experience with #100DaysOfCode (which I finished in April 2017). I mentioned what exactly I studied, my projects, and in the end, I encouraged people to take part in the challenge too.

That article later got the attention of Prototypr, and they asked me if they could share it in their publication too.

But most importantly (for my public speaking career) it got noticed by the founder of the Umbraco framework! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

The founder sent me an email (yes, I kept his emails from 2018) saying he enjoyed my article and asking me if I could present the same thing at a conference!

At that time, I didn't know anything about conferences... not even meetups... heck, I didn't even have a developer's job! ๐Ÿ˜ตโ€๐Ÿ’ซ

So how would I go abroad (with no money and no experience) talking in front of a big experienced crowd.... The imposter syndrome kicked hard...

But I'm not gonna lie, I was also super excited! I called my then-boyfriend and my parents to announce this big achievement!

Me: "Mom, I wrote an article and now they're calling me to speak at a conference in Denmark."

Me: "Dad, I want to go, please let's go!"

After asking the founder if they could cover my expenses (Denmark is an expensive country), and having him explain to me that there are "Sponsors", hence they can do it, I was super excited to book my flight tickets.

My Dad came with me. He took this photo of me:

Photo: 25 May 2018. Odense, Denmark. A few hours after my 1st presentation.

By the way, you watch here the presentation. After a few months, it was reshared in #FreeCodeCamp's YoutTube channel (another personal big win ~ more than 183K people have watched it ๐Ÿคฏ).

My 2nd Time

I explained above my 1st time, but how about my 2nd? Did I keep writing articles, hoping someone would notice them?!

Not exactly...

A few months after my 1st talk, I received an email asking me if I wanted to present the same talk in Germany. The event was organized once again by the Umbraco community (so they had seen my work in Denmark) but this time they weren't covering my expenses as it was a community event (and not a conference with big sponsors). I politely declined.

I thought that was it. I was never going to speak at conferences...

And then, after a few months, I received another email. They were asking me the same thing only this time they were covering my expenses and the conference was in the Netherlands!

I immediately said "yes".

Photo: 12 October โ€Ž2018, Utrecht, The Netherlands. During my talk.

How Did I Continue?

Okay, now I explained my 1st and 2nd time. But how did I really continue?

That night in Utrecht, after my talk, a few speakers and organizers got together in a cute little bar-restaurant. If you know me (even through social media) you know I'm super shy ~ which means I didn't wanna go...

But thank god I did! ๐Ÿ™

Photo: 12 October โ€Ž2018, Utrecht, The Netherlands. I'm the one in the blue circle.

During the evening I asked the other speakers about their public speaking journeys and they suggested a few practical tips on how I can do it. The conversation was mostly about how I can find conferences and apply to them (more about that a bit later, in the section "How you can do it too").

Was It Luck or Hard Work?

I used to ask myself "Is it luck or hard work?"

Yes, a part of it may be luck.

I mean what are the chances a founder reads your article, finds it suitable enough for his conferences, and asks you to join them in a conference as a 1st time speaker?!

But now, let's go back to the last day of 2016 (1st photo), where I publicly shared I'm taking part in the #100DaysOfCode challenge.

  • Not only did I successfully finish the challenge but later I wrote an article about it.

  • In the meantime, I kept practicing and doing other coding challenges.

  • I found a developer's job that I really liked.

  • I started using Twitter more and more and I also started posting YouTube videos with what I was learning (which fun fact: this led me to my 1st contract job).

If I didn't do these things would I ever be a public speaker? I honestly doubled that...

(Feel free to comment below if you have a different opinion.)

How It's Going?

My excitement every time they invite me to a conference is still as big as it was the first time. I'm thankful for these opportunities and I don't take them for granted.

I started in 2018 and I'm planning to keep going as long as I have something valuable to share.

  • I visited more than 20 countries, and 3 continents (Europe, Africa, and the USA). ๐ŸŒ

  • I met people from all over the world. ๐Ÿ‘ฏ

  • I wouldn't change anything. ๐Ÿ’“

How You Can Do It Too

Do you want to be a public speaker? Here is the tea: ๐Ÿต

  1. Find a topic that you like to talk about. It can be a hot topic, a recent project that you think is super cool and people must know about it, etc.

  2. Create a presentation or at least a written plan of what you want to talk about.

  3. Now go to or and create your "speaker's profile". This means you have to add some basic information about yourself AND you can add the topic you want to talk about.

  4. Last but not least, scan for conferences and apply.

Note: I don't want to lie ~ Just because there are 4 steps it doesn't mean it's super easy or you'll spend a couple of minutes and then organizers will start calling you.

No. Spend time refining your profile and your proposal.

You'll get many rejections too and that's ok. Most of us do, and I guess even very experienced speakers do.

One of the most important factors to get selected is to have a topic that aligns with the conference's topics.

For example, I may want to talk about security, but the conference is about JavaScript. Even if I have the perfect presentation, they'll never select me!

P.S. A few years ago I wrote this article, if you get selected as a speaker, do check it. ๐Ÿ˜‡

Fun Fact

I did mention that my 1st talk was in Denmark ~ Well, now that I'm writing this article I'm in Denmark!

No, I don't live here, but we had a company event.


Let me know if you have any questions and I'd love to answer them for you.

๐Ÿ‘‹ Hello, I'm Eleftheria, devrel and content creator.

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