One morning back in August, feeling uncharacteristically outgoing, I enquired about speaking at a local web design meet-up. To my relief, I was told that there was no space at the next few events. A few days later however, Richard, the organiser at MK Geek Night emailed to let me know that somebody had dropped out of the December meet-up and I could speak if I wanted to. I quickly agreed to do it before I could talk myself out of it. An email newsletter went out to promote the event with my name next to the other speakers and I was committed — there was no backing out now.

MK Geek Night is an opportunity for web-people to meet and discuss code, design and just about anything else. It happens every few months in Milton Keynes. The combination of free admission, great speakers, a friendly atmosphere and free pizza(!) means that it is always very well attended. I try to get along to the event whenever I can, as I always come away with lots of ideas and a renewed enthusiasm for making websites.

An MK G’

Speaking at the event had never really occurred to me until a few months ago. Public speaking isn’t something I’m at all used to doing. In fact, it scares the shit out of me. I guess that’s why I signed up though – it’s invigorating to throw yourself in at the deep-end every now and then.

I had a good idea about what I wanted to talk about from the outset but I put off thinking any more about it until the big day began to loom. I was only scheduled to speak for 5–10 minutes but I was really nervous about losing my way and my mind going blank. I wrote and rewrote my talk, designed some slides and practiced speaking over and over to myself in the days leading up to the presentation. I went over it again a couple of times in the car on the way to Milton Keynes and I kinda felt ready. It still felt like there was a small colony of butterflies in my stomach though.

The big night

To kick off proceedings a with bang, Seb Lee Delisle gave a very entertaining talk about lasers in his warm and casual manner that he seems to make look so easy on stage. Next were the 5-minute-ers, of which I was last on. First up was Lewis Turek with a very self-assured and amusing presentation about the power of reviews. Next came Mary Harmon with a passionate discussion about the importance of accessibility. And then it was my turn. It was all over in a blur. I held it together without making a complete fool of myself *I think*, which was my only real goal. A few people spoke to me afterwards and told me that they had really enjoyed what I had to say which was pleasing too. Overall I was pretty happy for a first go, and I can only get better right? I don’t dare watch the video back — I’m sure it’s awful in retrospect — but it’s here below if you really must.

By far the star of the show was last up, the inimitable Mr Bingo — of hate mail and rap video fame. His meticulously planned speech was one of the funniest and most engaging 45 mins I’ve ever experienced. A fantastic end to a great MKG Night. Big-up to the organisers for all their hard work!