Imagine this. You’re a woman in a male-dominated field. English is not your first language. Even though you’re confident in your engineering work, the thought of public speaking and being recorded for the world to see absolutely terrifies you.

That was me, five years ago. Since then, I’ve moved into a successful career in Developer Advocacy and spoken at dozens of technical events in the U.S. and worldwide.

My name is Nina Zakharenko. I’m a long time software engineer and currently a Senior Cloud Developer Advocate at Microsoft, where my focus is making VS Code and Azure a great experience…


Have too much to do? Stressed? Overcommitted at home and at work?

Would you believe me if I told you there was a straightforward solution to your troubles? One that doesn’t cost anything at all. You might not believe me, but that’s where I get a chance to introduce one simple word that may change your life.

— -

“No.”

— -

Yes, “no.” Now, say it out loud with me, slow and loud — “No…..”

Don’t like spending time on remote Meetups? Do you feel like you’re signing on just for the sake of it, and not learning anything…


Inspired by Phildini’s Python Clock, I wanted to make a desktop version of a Python 2.7 countdown timer for the big event.

My countdown timer matches my mood, with thirteen different themes to choose from 💅.

In Action


Preparing for the big day

This is Part 7 of a multi-part Guide to Memorable Tech Talks. Visit the outline for more information.

Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t get thrown off by the unpredictable. Practice, accept constructive feedback and be prepared.
  2. Dress comfortably, breathe, embrace silence. Don’t let imposter syndrome shake your confidence.
  3. Leave the audience with actionable takeaways.

Now that you’ve written your talk, it’s time to practice it and deliver it at the conference. I’ve seen many different styles of great speakers, but there are a few shared important ingredients to every successful talk. Letting your audience know what they’ll learn if they stay, giving actionable takeaways, being prepared, well practiced, and knowing what to say, and getting to the point as quickly…


Writing an engaging talk and captivating slides

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

This is Part 6 of a multi-part Guide to Memorable Tech Talks. Visit the outline for more information.

Key Takeaways

  1. Find your style. If you don’t have a style, work on developing one over time.
  2. Don’t stray too far from your proposal submission.
  3. Consider your audience, especially if speaking internationally.

Before you start writing your talk, try to find your style. I’ve like to think I have a skill in taking complex topics and distilling them into small understandable pieces that developers of any level can understand. I know that if someone comes up to me after my talk and told me that they understand a topic that they thought was out of their reach, I’ve succeeded. I…


Planning your preparation time before the conference.

Photo by Icons8 team on Unsplash

This is Part 5 of a multi-part Guide to Memorable Tech Talks. Visit the outline for more information.

Key Takeaways

  1. Writing and practicing a talk will take longer than you think. Make time for it in your schedule.
  2. Break up talk-related tasks into small manageable chunks.
  3. Use time-tracking software to stay on track.

Writing proposals and talks and having the time to practice them is a massively time-consuming process. Especially for your first talk, make sure that you have plenty of time. Even though I’ve been doing this for a few years now, crafting talks still takes me an incredible amount of time. It’s the only part of the process that I haven’t really optimized.

That’s the equation…


Tools for brainstorming, backups, creating slides, time-management, and more

Photo by Rob Lambert on Unsplash

This is Part 4 of a multi-part Guide to Memorable Tech Talks. Visit the outline for more information.

Key Takeaways

  1. Find the tools that work for you. Many of the best tools are free to use.
  2. A markdown-based slide generator like Deckset, GitPitch, and reveal.js enables you to version control your presentation with git.
  3. Be prepared for disaster with two forms of backup and a local copy of your talk.

There are several different tools, apps, and programs, and gadgets I use to help me track my time, my tasks, craft my talks, back them up, and share them afterward. My preference is towards tools to be easy to use, accessible from multiple platforms, and help save time…


A guide to writing and submitting conference talk proposals

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

This is Part 3 of a multi-part Guide to Memorable Tech Talks. Visit the outline for more information.

Key Takeaways

  1. Research the conference before submitting. Look for explicit guidelines or research past talks.
  2. Propose what you’re capable of delivering in a concise way.
  3. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Try again.

First things first, you need to find a conference to submit to. There are resources for this such as the Mozilla Tech CFP Twitter, the list of worldwide PyCons, and the PaperCall Event Directory. You can filter the PaperCall directory by events that have open Calls for Proposals (CFPs), or events that provide travel assistance. If you know other good resources for learning about CFPs, please share.

Something…


Selecting a conference you’d like to speak at, and a topic you’d like to speak about.

Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash

This is Part 2 of a multi-part Guide to Memorable Tech Talks. Visit the outline for more information.

Key Takeaways

  1. Everyone, including you, has something interesting to say. Use everyday inspiration to pick a topic.
  2. Choose a topic that you’re passionate about. Your enthusiasm will show.
  3. Keep up to date on open Calls For Proposals at conferences you’re interested in. They typically end several months before the conference.

“I have nothing new to say, it’s all been covered” is a myth that I hear beginners perpetuate as a way to talk themselves out of speaking.

It’s not true. What an audience is genuinely interested in is your unique perspective, your story, and the way you tell it. Storytelling…


Highlights of my journey into technical public speaking

My morning keynote at All Things Open 2018

This is Part 1 of a multi-part Guide to Memorable Tech Talks. Visit the outline for more information.

Key Takeaways

  1. About my journey into public speaking.
  2. Find supportive friends, co-workers, and allies to push you outside of your comfort zone.
  3. Once you get started, keep up momentum.

Off the cuff, I asked Twitter a question to see if a few folks might be interested in learning about my process for writing and delivering technical conference talks.

Instead of a few likes, I got a roaring response. The question got almost 2,000 likes in two days. I had no choice but to deliver.

A little about my journey: I went from speaking at small Meetups to my first…

Nina Zakharenko

Cloud Developer Advocate @microsoft, software engineer, pythonista, & speaker. Team #emacs. Previously @reddit @meetup @recursecenter. she/her

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store