Bill Nye, the DevRel Guy

The Case for using Props in DevRel, from AWS' Justin Garrison


2 min read

In our Twitter Space today about DevRel content strategy, we were chatting with Justin Garrison (devrel at AWS) on his video content strategy:

We shifted into native YouTube content for the couple years during the pandemic... and then I did 10 short videos and I got more views on the short videos that we got in 2 years of the other existing content.

That series was called Container Shorts, which look like this:

Then I realized that Justin does something very differently from most developer content creators:

He uses props.

Then I realized that this is a pattern Justin does. Here he is doing an entire talk sitting on an AWS Snowball:

Most notably, if you watch the video from the start, he starts the talk sitting on the Snowball BUT NOT TALKING ABOUT IT ALL until about 6 minutes into the video. Because it is so unusual for a speaker to sit down on an unexplained box while speaking, my attention was held for the entire time, with the inherent unanswered question: WHAT'S IN THE BOX?

And then he stands up and starts moving them around and you cannot take your eyes away. That's a real machine? It's like a 16xl? 42 terabytes of storage? and you're just manhandling them around on stage?


At one point to illustrate resilience, he actually knocks these expensive AWS Snowball machines over on stage.


Completely unnecessary.

Totally captivating.

Back to Justin on our Twitter Space:

"I always like to teach the way I like to learn... and I grew up watching Bill Nye the Science Guy, and I loved his content because it was so extreme and weird with lots of props and visual aids. So I just do that - I look around the room for something that can represent the thing that I want to teach people, and I take that to my backyard and film it."

Props. Who woulda thunk it? Maybe we could all get DevRel ideas from Bill Nye.

P.S. He had other tips to share:

  • Most of his short video views came from reposting to LinkedIn, not TikTok or YouTube.
  • Having people ask their own questions is better than giving them answers.

You can listen to the rest of our DevRel space here.