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When I asked him “What makes you this amazing speaker?”, his response astonished me.

Last Saturday, at 09:30, Google Calendar sent me a notification that you have an upcoming DevOps & SRE meetup in exactly an hour.

For a minute, a question loomed in my frontal lobe 🧠, “Would this really be worth it?”

To be honest, I’m a freelance tech blogger, and it is tough for me to resist the allure of potential knowledge (esp tech) and networking opportunities.

So, I just decided to not get enveloped in trepidation and rather chose the excitement of knowing something new.

And I’m so glad I did, as now I’m more driven to explore the DevOps toolchain in-depth. And the credit goes to Sandeep.

Sandeep Raghuwanshi was crisp yet detailed and eloquent while explaining how the DevOps choices, esp the tooling choices that they (his team at Razorpay) make impact the bottom line (cost optimization saving huge bucksS$$💰).

For example, he shared how they offload some of the non-critical workloads to AWS spot instances, and how CAST AI helps them optimize spot choices, and this alone saves them $40k (if I’m recollecting the numbers right).

The talk was sprinkled with humor, nagging questions, challenges, and how his team solves/approaches them at Razorpay. He also shared the tools they use, including VictoriaMetrics & Prometheus, Grafana, etc. Basically, it was focused on how to make the most of DevOps (esp K8S) in a cost-effective way.

However, I was taken aback by something else that I observed during his session.

After every slide that he presented, there was amazing engagement from the audience. The attendees were asking questions (highly relevant). A lot of them. And he was answering them all. It seemed to be a very authentic engagement and free flow of knowledge.

This was different from most of the other meetups that I attended (be it tech or business meetups). Normally, I’ve observed that in the meetups, the presenter is either trying to push a product or a solution. Even questions from the audience sound gimmicky. Esp in business events, where the guy asking questions, out of nowhere patches his ninja transformational product/service. And hence, the engagement appears to be gamed in all such events.

Here, at this DevOps-cum-SRE meetup, it was exactly the opposite.

1. I feel the engagement was genuine because Sandeep’s intent was not to sell but to share knowledge.

2. Plus, he was able to talk about stuff without any ambiguity. I could say so as I understood ‘almost everything’ that he talked about. He gave apt context wherever it was required. He knew the audience so well that he even anticipated some of the questions upfront.

3. He didn’t let any question or remark put him off track. Whenever there was any question that he felt was relevant to the upcoming slide, he confidently said that it would be answered there.

I feel that deep subject matter expertise, eloquence, and how he managed the questions and the entire session helped him brilliantly deliver his talk.

Post the event, I approached him on LinkedIn, and asked him “What makes you this exceptional speaker?”

I was astonished when he shared that “It was my debut talk…“.

He said that he doesn’t possess any special gifts and “it’s just that whatever we do I have explained it as it is.”

Maybe he is a natural speaker.

But I feel he certainly ticked a few boxes that make one an exceptional speaker. Here’s a note to myself and for you too if you ever sign up to present a tech talk. Things that we need to remember (basically, things we can learn from Sandeep’s tech talk)-

1. Talk about what you’ve deep expertise in.

2. Understand your audience in and out.

3. Anticipate and adjust your presentation style such that it bridges any gap that your audience might face while trying to understand the topics that you’re addressing. I guess, research & experience would help with accurate anticipations.

4. Don’t get off track. Be in control of the presentation. There will always be interruptions, be good at managing them.

5. Be authentic, and non-salesy.

Natural speakers, like Sandeep, may need not to engineer how they are going to present in a tech talk, but some do. This post is for them (and me).

Hopefully, I’ll interview Sandeep in the near future, and squeeze in some practical DevOps insights that help engineering teams be more effective, and maybe I’ll publish it on Dzone. 🤞

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Nishant Choudhary

Nishant is a marketing consultant for funded startups and helps them scale with content.

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