OSCON 1.1: Presentation Aikido

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Geoff Broadwell

Geoff Broadwell
Aug. 01, 2005 10:49 PM

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URL: 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!

Geoff Broadwell lives not far from O'Reilly headquarters in Santa Rosa, California, with a wonderful wife and daughter and four extremely spoiled cats. Geoff happily calls Perl the only computer language he ever really loved, having sampled a fair number before and since. He is on a personal mission to prove that dynamic languages are by far the best programming option for almost every purpose, and believes that the ultimate Linux distro of the future will contain little more than a kernel, an OpenGL and X server, the Parrot VM, and many, many Perl scripts.