Sunday, March 13, 2022

Some notes for people giving technical talks

At a point last year (that I'm not going to identify) I got very frustrated with the way many people were giving technical talks. 

This is a list I put together at that time with some important things for anyone giving a technical talk to remember.

It's not about the speaker. We don't need to hear their biography or life story.

Tell a story. Or, at the very least, give the impression that you have a structure and it's not an arbitrary collection of things in an arbitrary order.

The talk is not an abstract thing. Don't talk about the presentation you're giving as an external thing. Especially not as something you have no control or influence over. It's YOU giving a talk. The talk doesn't exist separately from you.  

Don't give a talk anyone can give. Let others do that. Give the talk that only you can do.

No excuses: rehearse, rehearse, rehearse & get timings right. If you run out of time it shows you weren't prepared and therefore are happy to waste everyone's time and not give them what you promised.

If online - look at the camera. If you've chosen to have a camera on you, look at it. We don't want to see you looking above, below, or beside the camera. We really don't want to see the side of your head. 

If in-person - look at the audience. Not at the screen. Not at your laptop. Not at the floor. Not at the ceiling.

Put key names and terms on the screen (not just logos.) The audience might not recognize a logo or a term you mention. If they want to look up more about it later, it really helps if they know how to spell it. 

Share the resources. Don't say you will and then not do it. And make sure you share them everywhere the talk is made available. If you don't know then ask the organizers where it will be.

Have short versions for all URLs. Don't put a long URL on the screen and hope that someone in the audience will be able to read or accurately copy it.

Have a really clear title that matches the talk. Don't mislead an audience to attend by letting them think a talk is about one thing when it's actually about another. This includes using broad terms when you're actually going to be talking about something very focused. 

Do something specific to the audience/situation. No one wants the same thing repeated verbatim somewhere else.

whining over ;)


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