Back before I started doing technical presentations or writing blog posts, I frequently found myself in awe at those who did those things. Watching someone present on a deeply technical topic or reading an article about a complex concept always made me wonder what chain of experiences would give the writer or author that type of encyclopedic knowledge about a topic. It seemed to me that I’d never be good enough to get there.
Eventually, I got brave enough to ask a few writers and presenters how they did it. The theme of their answers was the same: Preparing for a technical talk or article is as much about research and learning as it is about sharing experiences. Rarely does anyone share about a technical topic based purely on information they already know by heart. Any well-prepared author or presenter will put both their experience and additional research into the topic on which they share, almost always learning a few new things along the way.
I took this lesson to heart, especially in my early days of blogging, and later, presenting. I created drafts on topics that interested me but I wasn’t yet ready to declare a mastery of, and used that as a mandate to learn as much as I could. I was well outside my comfort zone many times, but these experiences helped me to increase the breadth and depth of my knowledge.
Sharing publicly, whether in writing or through presentations, exposes us to the possibility of public criticism. The natural response is to go the extra mile in preparation to make sure the material we share is as accurate and complete as possible. Through that process, we are both teachers and learners.