Brainstorming Your Next Conference Talk

Sample Mind Map for Conference Talks

The following article is part of a series of articles discussing the lifespan of a presentation; from idea, to delivery, to archival and back again. When needed, we’ll take special note of issues related to programmers and presentations involving code. Enjoy.

Last time we talked about the benefits of doing conferences presentations, and today we’ll help you figure out what that presentation topic should be.


When brainstorming a tech talk subject, or anything of value, it’s helpful to have some kind of low friction for your output. This could be as simple as pencil and paper or as sophisticated as dedicated mind mapping software (personally, I like MineNode when brainstorming on my Mac). After removing the friction of capturing ideas, let your mind wander. Don’t stop writing, capture everything you can think of, even the bad ideas. This exercise is not about evaluating ideas, it’s about capturing them. Things to consider and document:

Do multiple brainstorm sessions over the course of different days. Like an app idea list, it’s helpful to keep this as a living document for years to come. (Personally I like Trello for things like this.)


After brainstorming a bunch of ideas, you need to consider the merit of specific topics. Keep the following in mind during your review:

By now you should have a few topic ideas. The next step will be to outline each topic’s content. Don’t worry about specifics, this is just to help you explore what the talking points might be and get closer to your final pick and then an abstract.

We’ll help with writing that abstract very soon.

This article series is brought to you by: OwlDeck.

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