I remember my first real conference talk very clearly. Dozens of thoughts raced through my head. What if I forget what I need to say? What if someone in the front row falls asleep? What if someone knows more than I do and corrects me? As it turns out, it really wasn’t that bad.
You see, no-one is there to correct you. No-one is waiting for you to slip up and make a mistake. They’re all there to about hear what you’ve learned. About the experiences you’ve had working in a certain environment or with a tool they’re interested in. Don’t worry about someone knowing more about the subject than you do (in fact, some of the better talks I’ve seen were by someone talking about a tool when the tool’s author was in the audience!)
You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to have a solution to a problem. Going back to my conference talk, it was a presentation about all of the mistakes I’d made in the last 12 months. I admitted to making some stupid mistakes, some costly mistakes and having some issues that no-one seemed to know how to solve. After that talk, several people came and thanked me for explaining the issues and how to fix them, as it meant that they wouldn’t make the same mistake themselves in the future.
Don’t start with conference speaking though. Start with a blog. Your posts don’t need to be 10,000 word essays on the state of technology. They can be 200 word posts on how to configure a specific piece of technology. My most popular posts include ones about how I debugged an obscure cURL error (and how to fix it), how to encode/decode arbitrary JSON in Golang and strangely, how to get an XBox 360 wireless controller working with Windows 7.
Share something today. Whenever you encounter a problem and work out how to fix it, write it down. Not only will you help yourself in 18 months when you need to do it again (and trust me, you will), you’ll be helping the rest of the internet solve that problem too.