It's hard, the speakers put in a lot of effort in writing and preparing a talk. If you are able, ask a question, it shows you were listening/interested and someone else will no doubt benefit from the answer. If it can't be answered it gives people something to go away and look up. Most importantly say thank you after, even if only over twitter.
PreparationI've been to a few talks, and seen many styles of presenting i liked:
- Single slide and just talk (Dan eden did a great talk like this at hey stac)
- Over use of swearing (Chad Tomkiss / Scott Riley I'm looking at you)
- Intentionally controversial, with lots of discussion from the audience
- Casual, sit and just chat away (Phil Sturgeon at Leeds PHP)
- All the gifs.
While swearing is fucking awesome, there's a way to do it and get away with it. I wasn't confident enough to do that for a first talk, so that was out.
Single slide is something I really wanted to do, but I felt like having actual slides would help my nervous memory not miss anything out.
Controversial really depends on the subject, and I knew what I wanted to talk about wasn't provocative enough.
While I could spend all day laughing at cat gifs, too many just makes a talk look unprofessional.
So what the hell to do?I decided on using as little slides as possible. This meant I would be talking and not relying on people reading all the slides. It also meant that I would have a pointer on what to talk about. This also meaning that I wouldn't have to design crazy beautiful slides.
Cat gif, yes I want some of those. By putting it at the end it would bring my talk back to a less serious note (and everyone loves cat gifs).
Content firstFirst job was to get all the points i wanted to get across together. So I quickly jotted them all down so I could design my slides around my content.
Design and writingDesigning them, I'm no designer so I opted for simple text on a plain background. As I was going try talking and not have people reading.
I then took to breaking my notes up into small chunks for each slide, and putting them in a sensible order.
Doing itTalking wasn't the hard part, that was the wait before. The long long few minuets wait that seemed to last forever. Once I was up there, while nervous, I think I coped quiet well.
QuestionsThe part I was dreading the most was the questions at the end. It was the only bit I couldn't prepare for, who knows what kind of sneaky difficult question someone would come up with.
With the talk over, it was question time. The pause while people gathered there thoughts was everlasting.
Then the first question, then another and another. My mind had changed, this was the best part, people had clearly took on board what I said.
AfterwardsA few people came up said thanks and congratulated me. Of course I felt good about this.
The whole experience, while nerve wreaking, was defiantly worth it. While public speaking isn't for everyone, if you're thinking of doing a talk, definitely give it ago.
So next time your at a talk, try ask a question, even if you grab the speaker afterwards. Thank the person talking, even if its just over twitter.
If there is anything anyone wants to know anything that I haven't covered, feel free to get in touch and i'll answer best as can.
More questionsDid you answer all the questions? If not, what did you do?
No I didn't answer everything. I did the only thing I could, hold my hands up and said I don't know. But it sounded interesting and it gave me something to look into. Thankfully someone else in the audience came to my aid and gave some advice.
Would you do it again?
Yes, yes I would. Hopefully i'll find something else to talk about.