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The shy person's guide to tech conferences

Monday 9:00am, Ballrooms B and C

About This Talk

I used to think about tech conferences as a series of talks / panels / tutorials; but everything changed once I started looking beyond the tech and into the people behind it. Now conferences are not just a cool thing to do, but a highlight of my year!

In my talk I want to share some of the things I’ve learned during my short time as conference-goer and speaker. I want to encourage you to make the most out of your conference experiences by connecting with those around you, learning from them, and sharing some stuff of your own. Maybe I can even give you that final push to submit that talk idea you’ve been thinking about? Let’s find out!

What’s the talk about?

It’s about lessons I’ve learned as a shy person going to tech conferences, and how changing the way I think about them has made them one of the highlights of my year. I want to challenge newcomers and seasoned attendees to make the most out of conferences by connecting with others and even give their own talk.

Who is it for?

Yes, the title mentions shy people, but really this could be useful to anyone who just wants to have more meaningful conference experiences (shoutout to first-time attendees, people coming from abroad, non-native English speakers). Also if you’re on the fence about whether or not you should give a talk you should come.

What will you learn from the talk?

Hopefully you’ll go from seeing conferences as a series of talks / panels / tutorials into thinking of them as great places to make friends, advance your career, and contribute to your tech community. You’ll also feel more equipped to navigate conferences and the rich social networks formed around them, and inspired to share your particular knowledge and insight in a talk.

Why should you attend?

I’m no expert in sociology (or even conferences / events), but I will try to provide my unique perspective on this topic. For me it’s been an important life lesson with implications beyond tech events, and hopefully you’ll find something valuable and genuinely helpful in this talk.


  • Conferences: What are they really about?
    • Talks vs. Talking
    • The secret conference schedule
    • Build up your conference persona
  • A speaker? Me?
    • Mythbusters: Speaker edition
    • What to say
    • How to say it
    • A word for conference organizers
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Ed Rivas

Hi, I’m Ed! I’m a freelance web developer building fast, elegant sites with Python / Django. On the frontend, I love bringing beautiful designs to life using accessible HTML, (S)CSS, and JavaScript. Lately I’ve been playing with everyone’s favorite toys: React and Redux.

I’ve been contributing to Mezzanine, a popular Django-based CMS, for several years now. I find great satisfaction in teaching and helping others in their programming journey and adventures with tech.