Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Speakers advice

First. Read this: http://webapplog.com/10-conf-donts/

Some additional thoughts on the don't list.

  1. Avoid reading to your audience unless you are a poet, journalist, judge or politician. Poets and journalists are paid to write well and read there words well. Judges and politicians are paid to be ultra precise. 
  2. Avoid Type and Talk unless it is a Code Dojo presentation where the typing is essential. I've seen too many bad type-and-talk where the lack of organization made it nearly impossible to figure out what was going on.
  3. Avoid GIFs and clever graphics. 
  4. Avoid insulting people. Don't alienate your audience. If you can't be completely 100% inclusive of every single human being in the room, don't speak in public.
  5. Avoid sitting if you are able to stand. If you must sit, please try to sit where folks can see you. This can't always work. Someone able to stand who chooses to sit is doing themselves a disservice. A singer or vocal coach will tell you that your standing posture helps you breathe properly and project properly. If you are able to stand, please stand.
  6. Avoid nervous behaviors. Avoid drawing attention to yourself, and draw attention to your material  Fear (or nervousness) is hard to avoid. It's important to focus on the audience and their curiosity about your talk. They were intrigued by the title. They want to hear you..
  7. Avoid apologies. Apologize if you offend someone, of course. But don't "pre-apologize" for some irrelevant aspect of your presentation. Your audience came for the content, not for apologies.
  8. Avoid too much sales pitch. I've sat through too many product demos that had a half-hour sales pitch that left only a half-hour for the actual useful information. This has happened even when I told vendors -- explicitly -- not to provide any sales information during the product demo.
  9. Avoid too much personal background. A complete recitation of your CV isn't interesting and brushes up against an Argument from Authority fallacy.
  10. Avoid dressing badly.
A list of things to do.
  1. Speak with passion about your topic. Your slides are your road-map through the agenda. A few key points and reminders are all you should have.
  2. Speak to the people listening. Canned code examples are good, if they emphasize your point. Copy and paste into an IDE if you are demonstrating the IDE.
  3. Focus on the material, not other irrelevant cleverness.
  4. Focus on the audience as people interested in your topic.
  5. To project your voice -- and your presence -- you need to be visible. Stand if you can. Try to be as visible as possible.
  6. Focus on your audience's need to hear your material. It's not about you, it's about your content.  
  7. Focus on the good, useful, informative information you're providing.
  8. Present outstanding content first. Sales are merely a hoped-for consequence of a good presentation. 
  9. Your content should stand on it's own. You only need a brief summary of your qualifications. 
  10. Project your presence. Dress so that you can be seen without being distracting.