5 Minute Tips: Conference Talks

The learning coffee break is back! Today with a few tips I collected from others about preparing and giving conference talks:

On Scope

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.

Julia Evans – Ideas for making better conference talks & conferences

On Delivery

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.

Prof. M.S. Rao – How To Convert Your Concerns Into Strengths In Public Speaking

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”

Christian Heilmann – Things not to say on stage at a tech event

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.

Philip Jackson – Crafting the perfect 30 minute talk


If you find more time, I can recommend these longer and more detailed articles: