Speaker Spotlight: The Data Science Behind Public Speaking with Eduardo Contreras Cortes

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Welcome to our newest blog series where we shine a light on recent speakers from our variety of community-led events, learning a little more about them and what inspires them.

Brighton R is a friendly and open group who meet regularly to share stories, insights and inspiration about all things R programming.

At our first Brighton R event of 2022, Eduardo Contreras Cortes (Principal Consultant at 4most and a regular on the R circuit) shared his analysis on 2,500+ TED talks, using text analytics and machine learning in R to find the factors that make some talks more popular than others. The ML model has also been successfully deployed online as a free tool to provide recommendations for new presentations, and can be found on his website: www.speakthedata.com.


Image of Eduardo Contreras Cortes

Hey Eduardo, tell us about a moment that helped define your career?

Definitely coming to study my masters in statistics at the University of Edinburgh. It gave me the opportunity to experience life in the UK and learn new statistical methodologies that helped me to get my first job in the UK at Lloyds Banking Group.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

One skill that I have found really important in my career is the practice of public speaking, which I practiced a lot when I joined a public speaking group called Toastmasters. There’s a group in London called Data Science Speakers that suits even better to the data/tech community. I would have given the advice to join earlier in my career. It has been challenging but I have learned so much about it.

What was the inspiration for your recent talk?

The inspiration came from being a member of the public speaking group that I mentioned above. In the meetings there was a chance to provide regular personal feedback to other speakers on how to improve their talks. I thought that it could be interesting to apply the data science method if there was a way to analyse many talks, and then I found a data set of TED talks in a Kaggle forum that provided me the idea to do it.

What’s your big tech prediction for 2022?

I read a book recently called ‘The Book of Why’ by Judea Pearl that talks about causality and the importance of it, so my prediction is that it will become more embedded into data analytics as more people research into it and develop more tools to use it.

And finally, Silicon Brighton wouldn’t be here without people like you giving back to the community so… what does the word community mean to you?

Before the pandemic I really enjoyed attending all the different meetups of analytics as there was always something to learn and opportunities to network with the community. It is really important to keep these spaces to bring new ideas, so I’m definitely looking forward to these kind of events coming back in person in the near future.


You can catch Eduardo’s talk will on our YouTube channel, in case you missed it or would like to watch it again!

Working hand-in-hand with Brighton’s tech community, we run a range of free meetup groups that cover a broad spectrum of specialist areas; from marketing to programming, product design to data. Check out what’s coming up here and join our community of like-minded individuals in the local tech scene.