Data Science Uncategorized

Speaking at Framework Days about engineering behind Data Science (and when things go wrong in public speaking)

This September I got a chance to speak at first Data Science conference in Kyiv, organized by Framework Days (FWDays). When I came and talked to participants, I felt thrilled, as Kyiv’s DS community was evolving so rapidly, and people are working on amazing topics.

I intentionally decided to not give any particular advice or how-to-s, as the journey of Bolt is quite unique and the way we do things may not work for everyone, so I thought the best would be to share our story of looking at the problems we have the way we address them.

And of course, there isn’t as single talk when something doesn’t go smoothly, and I’ve grown to feel comfortable about that. During my first presentation at a moderately large conference in Trento, Italy (EuroSciPy 2018), after arriving to the city by train 20 minutes before my presentation I just had enough time to glance through the slides – and, to be honest, those were still the times when I did last-minute changes and haven’t practiced a lot. I’m going up to the stage, and the usb flash drive is not recognized at my laptop. The IT guys try to fix things up, it takes too much time so I decide to proceed. without slides This was the only time I decided to use PowerPoint on Windows (I usually use Ubuntu+Google slides), and I swear I’m never using Windows again. (If you’re curious to see that – http://

Fast-forward 1 year later, my public speaking skills have evolved, the slides were ready in “pencils down” state few days before the conference (I’ve got to admit it was due to organizers rules, not my diligence). I was told that I’d have laptop with my slides and everything else set up for me.

10 minutes before my talk, I’m going to get my mic set up. There was panel discussion in just before me, so there was no spare one, I had to wait. And after asking if my slides were ready on that laptop I’ve heard “no, do you have your laptop with you?”.

Of course I did have one, but I never wanted to use it. Battery life isn’t perfect (might turn off half-way), and I prefer not to spend few first minutes in front of people plugging clickers and cords in. But apparently I had no choice.

I connect my laptop to projector, and I see flickering. Something is wrong with resolution or frequency. Guys are trying to help me, but the time is ticking. Again, I have to start without slides – screen goes off completely at random. I recall last year’s situation, and promise that next year I’ll bring Mac.

Some minutes in the talk, screen is fixed and things go back to normal, but I already have adrenaline in my blood and urgency to deliver my best to cover up for the lame start.

But is it too bad for the effect? If you’re like me and get comfortable with fuckups happening and can make fun of yourself, this gives a good opportunity to connect with people, and connection is that invisible bridge that lets ideas flow to your listeners and you can have a real conversation.

My takeaways – prepare in advance, but if things go wrong (and they will) – ride the way and get most out of it!

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