Finding Inspiration for Conference Talks and Blog Posts

This September, I will be giving a talk at the KWSQA Targeting Quality conference, and then in November, I’ll be doing a presentation at AtomicCon (the internal conference and getaway that our company arranges every other year). I also write a blog post here every 40 days, helping our marketing goals by “sharing the pain” through a constant stream of blog posts.

Where do I find the inspiration for what to talk about at these events? What to blog about? I use two main sources.

1. What I’m Working On

This is the obvious one. What new things have I learned? Have I found another way to make bugs appear? Have I discovered a way to be more efficient? Have I found a better way to communicate with colleagues?

My upcoming talk at KWSQA is about a new way of selling and communicating my testing services at Atomic, where I work on multiple projects at once, all with different team sizes, goals, domains, and technologies.

2. The Community

I follow a lot of testers on Twitter, and the discussions there are often a fruitful source of ideas. The people I follow work in a wide variety of domains and companies, and they have different experiences and outlooks.

These discussions tend to be more general, focused on the current state of testing and where it is headed. Some topics come back repeatedly, which can also be interesting–why are we stuck with these, and why can’t we move on?

My AtomicCon presentation will focus on “Myths about Testing,” and Twitter has been an invaluable resource for putting this talk together.

Even if you’re not planning to give a talk (though you should–I highly recommend it!) and don’t have a blog to post on, this exercise can still be useful. If you did have to give a presentation, what would it be on? What have you learned or changed recently? If your answer is
“nothing,” is this a problem? If you don’t engage with the community to get ideas–why not?