How to set up your talk or tutorial proposal for a Python conference

PyLadies Night With Cheuk Ting Ho

How to set up your talk or tutorial proposal for a Python conference

On July 29th, Pyladies Ghana hosted another session of our monthly Pyladies Night series. We welcomed Cheuk Ting Ho, who shared her expertise on “How to set up your talk or tutorial proposal for a Python conference.”

Cheuk is an avid open-source contributor and organizer of PyData London and Humble Data community events. She’s also a PSF Director and fellow and an advocate for Open-source software (OSS) Security.

She began her career as a data scientist and learned about conferences. She joined a supportive community and submitted her first proposal, which was rejected. Undeterred, she submitted another proposal to a different conference, and it was accepted. She continued to submit proposals until she ultimately switched careers to developer relations (DevRel) in order to begin giving talks full-time.

Why should I speak publicly?

Cheuk categorized reasons for public speaking as personal or community gain. Personal reasons include sharing knowledge, building credibility, and a career in DeVRel roles.

How exactly do I start?

When preparing for a talk, it's important to keep in mind two aspects: mentoring and safe environments.

  • Local meetups with supportive audiences

  • Internal events at the workplace (if they're supportive)

  • Communities that support inclusion and diversity

  • Events that have an effective Code of Conduct (CoC)

  • Online events that accept recorded talks

  • Join a Mentorship program (e.g. EuroPython)

  • Ask a colleague or friend for guidance and rehearsal

  • Ask in a supportive community

If you're just starting out on your public speaking journey, we highly recommend beginning with a lightning talk that lasts between 5 and 10 minutes. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, it's a good idea to consider recorded or live talks instead of giving physical talks. Also, it's best to refrain from doing live demos.

Tips to look out for when submitting a proposal

  • Do it before the deadline

  • Talk about something that you care about

  • A use case at work may be a good start

  • Avoid sales pitches

  • Deliver the educational value of the talk (why should people attend your talk):

  • State that you identify as a minority in tech

And remember, it is okay and common to have your proposal rejected. Don’t give up; try again. Perhaps you can make a career out of it.

Gain confidence in approaching your first speaking opportunity and discover a new phrase introduced by the speaker by reviewing the session recording.