OSCON 1.1: Presentation Aikido

by Geoff Broadwell

Related link: http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/os2005/view/e_sess/6439

Derek J. Balling earlier today recommended O'Reilly require future OSCON speakers to attend Damian Conway's Presentation Aikido. I'd tend to agree.

I'd heard in the past that this particular tutorial was an absolute must if I ever made it to OSCON again, and I've definitely enjoyed Damian's talks before, so this one was a no-brainer for me to take -- especially since some year soon I'd like to give a talk at OSCON myself. I wasn't disappointed. I enjoyed the class immensely, and learned a good deal about technical speaking. More than that, I was left thinking "Oh man, I'm so glad I didn't try to give a talk without taking this class first!"

As Damian hammers home throughout the tutorial, your audience is giving you their most precious resource -- their time -- and that is a privilege that you should honor. The last time I attended OSCON, several years ago, I remember leaving at least two sessions early because the presentation was just plain awful. The speaker was unprepared, the slides were horrid, and energy and enthusiasm were nonexistant. I remember thinking "This person not only wasted the fifteen minutes I stayed, but I am now too late to see more than half of my alternate choice. Bah."

Don't do that to your audience. You owe it to the people investing their precious time to repay them several times over. Even if "it's just a team brown bag", take the time to learn to present better. This class is an excellent way to jump start that goal.

If you missed it this time, and you can't make it to whatever conference he's presenting it at next, I recommend extreme measures. Convince someone at your company to throw large wads of cash at Damian until he agrees to give the talk to your team. If anyone balks at the bottom line on the PO, title your request "Building Competitive Advantage". At least then you've built a certain air of mystery around it, while at the same time being completely honest. (Attend the talk for more on the air of mystery.)

Oh, and I am not That Guy in the Second Row. Honest!

Should potential conference speakers be forced to attend this tutorial first? Or should you just skip sessions taught by speakers who haven't done so?


2005-08-02 07:12:09
from "Teaching 'Learning Perl'"...
Tom Phoenix and I gave our "Teaching 'Learning Perl'" talk at OSCON a few years ago. The main point that most people miss is that communication is an action to take a person from a starting place to an ending place in as few steps as possible. Thus, any speaker who doesn't understand their starting place, their ending place, or the steps they need to take, is going to miss the mark as a speaker.
2005-08-07 11:05:53
from "Teaching 'Learning Perl'"...
Good point!

Will you be doing the TLP talk again, now that LP4 is out? Aspiring trainers want to know . . . .