The Ultimate Guide To Memorable Tech Talks

Nina Zakharenko
4 min readFeb 16, 2019

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 for Python developers everywhere. I delight in programming, drinking scotch, and tinkering with wearable electronics from my home base in Portland, Oregon. I’m most active on Twitter at @nnja.

My first major conference talks were at DjangoCon 2014 and PyCon US 2015. Since then, I’ve spoken at technical events all over the world. From Prague to Seoul, Singapore, Scotland, Paris and even a keynote at PyCon Russia where I got to hold an actual live python. One of my five-year goals is to be invited to speak at PyCon US, this time as a keynote speaker.

Holding a Python at PyCon Russia in Moscow. Trying, and failing, to mask the fear.

I think everyone has the ability to deliver stellar conference talks, which is why I took the time to write this post.

The Ultimate Guide

Each topic is a separate article, you can use the table of contents to jump to the sections that are most relevant to you.

1: Introduction

About me and my journey through technical public speaking.

2: Choosing a Topic

Selecting a topic you’d like to speak about.

3: Writing a Conference Proposal (or CFP)



Nina Zakharenko

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