- Darren Hickling
A couple of years ago, I was invited to attend the Enterprise Security and Risk Management conference in London. I really enjoy conferences, and do not make nearly enough time to seek them out, so happily agreed to attend. After the event, I was sent a questionnaire, which ended with a simple tick box question:
Would you be happy to speak at a future conference?
I considered it briefly, said yes, and thought little more of it...
Then Came the Email
A few months later, I received an email from Whitehall Media, asking if I could speak at the next conference! So: people really do pay attend to some of those questionnaires! I postponed it for a year, then happily accepted the invitation.
What to discuss, though? I was allotted a fifteen-minute slot in the morning, sandwiched between some incredibly experienced speakers, yet I could easily talk for multiples of that time.
It transpired that a short presentation length necessitated a narrow focus, and after a little research, I crafted possibly the longest title ever: It’s Time to Treat Software Engineers as Security Evangelists. Given the audience — a mix of security experts, vendors and practitioners — I hoped that explaining how difficult I believe ensuring security is considered, researched and practised enough during the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), would lead to a few simple changes in how security products are marketed and delivered.
Speaking at a Conference
Although the slides were delivered in elongated Pecha Kucha style, they should give enough of an idea as to what I tried to convey:
This was the first public conference I had spoken at, and while the nerves no doubt showed, the feedback was great, and I met some really interesting people, including the morning speakers at my first ever panel Q&A:
It can be awkward trying to engage people at a conference, but as a speaker, people were happy to just approach and talk to me, which was probably the highlight of the event! Hearing stories and, in particular, advice from others in both similar and vastly different situations, was a highlight of the event.
Would I Speak Again?
Absolutely, and I encourage you to do the same! Here's to the next great conference: let's hope it is soon.