Reflection- How to give great tech talks- talent.io

Last night, I gave my “talk on talks” for the second time. You can view the recording on periscope below.

Recording

Periscope was really cool- I’d never used it before- but the recording quality wasn’t great. It seemed to skip around a few times. In the future I’ll probably just set up my iPhone as a backup.

Execution

Other than the beginning of the talk, which I really bumbled, I have to say I nailed the execution. I practiced a lot and it felt quite smooth.

Group Activity and Handout

Unlike the first time I gave this talk, I used a paper handout (with a PDF available for livestream viewers) with discussion questions on one side and extra resources on the other.

While the audience was a little reluctant with the discussion questions at first, they eventually dove in and got chatting with each other. I don’t think any live stream viewers participated, but for the London audience, it was a great way to get them talking to each other about the content of the presentation.

I saw a lot of people folding up that paper handout so that they could take it home to refer to it later. This was the first time I’ve ever supplied a handout with one of my presentations and I’d definitely do it again.

Self-Design

I spoke to several audience members before and after the talk (and polled the audience during the talk) and I realized that I was guilty of a UX faux pas.

You are not your user.

You are also not your audience.

A few of them were definitely in the same camp as I was- they have big ideas but they’ve tried and failed in the past.

But most weren’t. The reasons that these people came to “How to give great tech talks” varied from wanting to be able to pitch better to potential customers, to wanting to be able to perform better at job interviews, to wanting to get over stage fright, and more.

It’s a very subtle difference, but I worry that focusing only on people just like me slightly alienated the others.

The content that I presented applies to all speakers, but the “hooks” in my intro, such as “Do you have big ideas?”, “What if people actually listened to your ideas?”, etc, were only for that small subset of the audience. Also, my “Optional Step 4- Commit” on the discussion questions, didn’t really work for most of the audience, especially those who speak regularly as part of their job, but just want to improve their speaking skills.

So if I do this presentation again, I’ll try to be more inclusive and to cover more reasons for speaking in my intro.

#HTDAP

An audience member approached me after the talk and said that he would have like to see me speak about the actual How to Do a Presentation steps, instead of just focusing on STAR moments.

I had had that same thought several times during my preparation for this talk, so I’ll definitely consider this going forward.

Conclusion

Overall I think it went great. I tried a few new things and the audience responded well to them. I hope to continue improving on this talk and/or other talks in the future!

I’m always looking for opportunities to speak. If you have an event that you’d like me to present at, get in touch!

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