Le Mix-IT approche, cette conférence Lyonnaise se déroulera le 20 et 21 avril 2016 et les places se  sont littéralement arrachées comme des petits pains ! Et pour cause… les talks prônant la mixité autour de l’agile, du développement et des technologies sont soigneusement selectionnés et ont été jusqu’à présent de grande qualité.

A cette occasion, par l’intermédiaire d’Agnès coordinatrice de cet événement, j’ai pu rencontrer une des speakeuses : Laura, venue tout droit de l’autre côté de l’atlantique pour nous partager son expérience !



Anaïs: Hi Laura, can you tell me more about you and your background ?

Laura: I’m an iOS developer, but my background & career experiences are all over the map (literally)! I never thought of myself as a technical person growing up–I loved creative writing & theater, and worked as a language teacher in France and South Korea. But once I started using technology to build my own tools to do my jobs better, I realized I loved programming–and have had the fortune to work on far-reaching apps with wonderful teams, from mobile agencies to Khan Academy. I’m at the point in my career now where I can pass on my skills to other developers, too: I’m giving trainings at corporations and also volunteering with organizations that teach women & girls to code, and am so glad I get to give back.


Anaïs: You will soon do a presentation in Lyon, France at the Mix-it. How did you learn about Mix-IT ? Why did you want to participate (or what/who make you participate)? Laura: Agnes reached out to me several months ago, and when I saw the byline of the conference on Twitter (“avec des crêpes et du coeur”) I knew it would be hard to turn down ;) Learning more about it, the spirit seemed really in line with conferences I love, with both talks *and* workshops so everyone can really learn from each other while we try new things.

En plus, je me suis spécialisée en français à l’université et je suis ravie d’avoir l’opportunité de passer quelques jours en France–cette belle langue me manque énormément et je me réjouis de rencontrer un peu la communauté tech de Lyon.


Anaïs: Your talk is called “Reading in a New Langage” , can you tell us more about it ? What are the reasons that make you choose this topic ?

Laura: iOS & Mac programmers recently made a big shift, from writing almost entirely in Objective C to writing a lot more in Apple’s new language, Swift. As Swift develops, lots of people are creating new idioms & styles and are pushing for “better readability”–but not many developers have actually trained new people in new languages (human *or* computer), and it’s easy to forget that different people’s experiences make different code feel “readable” to them.

I wanted to speak about “Reading in a New Language” because I wanted to get a discussion going about how we learned to read in our first languages–how we process information, whether it’s fiction or functions–and how we can try to apply those principles to craft more universally readable code.


Anaïs: As we know there are not so many female speakers so how did you become yourself a speaker? What did you enjoy most when doing a presentation? What is the most difficult part or things you don’t like about it?

Laura: I actually resisted speaking for a long time; several friends tried to convince me that I’d enjoy it & be good at it, but I didn’t believe them until Dave Klein, one of my favorite conference organizers, told me directly that he’d love to have me speak at one of his events. I submitted a couple talk ideas, and they accepted both of them–and I loved the experience so much I kept looking for more ways to speak & teach.

My favorite part of presenting is connecting with people in the audience; the most difficult part is writing a speaker bio!


Anaïs: What are your passions when you are not coding or doing talks?

Laura: Learning languages is my favorite hobby–I have folders of apps on my phone for every one I’ve studied recently :D


Anaïs: What is your advice for Women who never found the courage yet to do their first talk?

Laura: You don’t have to give a great talk.

You’ve maybe thought about giving a talk, searched the internet for advice, and found a ton of posts: “compelling gestures & body language”, “the most captivating organization”, “how to wow people with stories”, “stage diction”, “the smoothest tech demos”. If you’re like me, you then thought “There is just no way I can do all that” and closed all your browser tabs.

And you’re absolutely right: you can’t do all those things well. But the thing is, even with a talk that’s thoroughly mediocre in every dimension, you are still a valuable part of the conference: you chose a topic that you are really glad to know about because it has made your tech life easier, and now at least a handful more people will go home & read up more about it and do their jobs better as a result. Or maybe your demo fails in a new & spectacular way, and you recover creatively, and a speaker later that day copies your diving save to get themselves unstuck in a similar situation. Or you finish your presentation super early but decide to engage with attendees in a Q&A and there’s a wonderful discussion where everyone learns even more new things and a couple people make brand new business contacts. Or you’re afraid you have overexplained your idea, but people keep sidling up to you all conference to confess that yours is the first explanation that ever really made sense.

Probably you’ll work hard enough on your talk that it’ll actually be pretty good–but the point here is that even if it’s painfully ordinary, your talk has value. Being good right out of the gate is not a requirement for starting out.

And hey, next you’ll get a few more talks under your belt, and practice and work and get better and practice some more, and then write your *own* blog post about how to give a kickass technical talk.

Just don’t be afraid to start off mediocre.


Thank you so much Laura and I hope you will enjoy the Mix-IT !