The learning coffee break is back! Today with a few tips I collected from others about preparing and giving conference talks:
To me, a good talk is one where I learn something new or come away with some change in perspective. The more I learn / the more the speaker makes me think differently about something, the better. So, to give a good talk, you need to say a new-to-your-audience thing in an understandable way.
I don’t mind too much how many times you say “um” or how nice your slides are.
Keep talks high(ish) level. You can’t go into workshop level detail. Show what you did, how you did it and resources for learning more.
— Jessica Rose (@jesslynnrose) May 4, 2016
If you encounter tongue twisters, prepare in advance to replace the words with comfortable ones to communicate with your audience. When you write a book, you can use any kind of words since you don’t communicate verbally with them. However, when you speak in public places, you must have a free flow of words which is possible with proper preparation and planning.
Sentences to avoid in tech talks (read the source below to find more encouraging alternatives):
“This is easy…”
“I’ll repeat quickly, for the few of you who don’t know…”
“Everybody can do that…”
“$x solves this problem, so you don’t have to worry about it”
“As everybody knows…”
“That’s why $y(your product) is much better than (competitor) $x”
“This is just like we learned in school…”
“This can be done in a few lines of code…”
“If you want to be professional, do $x”
State what you’re going to learn and restate it often
Talks with highly technical content or complicated case studies may require more than a little assitance to help people follow along with what they’ve learned so far and how much more ground there is to cover. I suggest you create guideposts for your talk to follow along with as you progress through your major points.
If you find more time, I can recommend these longer and more detailed articles:
- Lena Reinhard – How to prepare and write a tech conference talk – covers a lot in detail from finding a topic to practicing and many links to even more resources
- Ross Tuck – Tips on Speaking – a huge list of bullet points, even with things like “what to do with a running nose”
- Pieter Hintjens – Ten Steps to Better Public Speaking – not really beginners material, but quite inspiring. The first step is “Stop Using Slides”