#TalkTips

30 tips in 30 days on writing and giving talks at conferences.

#TALKTIPS DAY 10: READ IT TO YOURSELF

I didn't always do this, I started doing it around the time I started making YouTube videos. I record myself reading through my whole talk when it's in very early draft mode. It doesn't typically come out like I'm actually giving the talk, there are tons of holes and incomplete pieces, and even more pieces that end up needing to be reworked, revised or completely discarded.

What I've learned most by recording myself reading through my talk is where I'm really boring. If I check-out mentally while listening to myself on the playback, there are obvious weak points that need some thought.

Give it a shot, let me know how it goes for you. 

Do you have #talktips to share? Leave a comment!

#TALKTIPS DAY 09: RESEARCH & EXAMPLES

Once I start putting my talk together I inevitably find that certain points I'm trying to make need a little more gravity to kick a point home. Books and songs and art, scientific facts and other information can absolutely help with that. It's always nice to be able to say something like, "See, Science says so!" 

Research and examples are a really important part of helping your talk, your experience, connect with the audience. Citing excellent, fun, intriguing, factual supportive material is awesome! \o/
 

Note: All tips written for my #talktips #30days challenge are written in 5 minutes or less.
If you have more questions, thoughts or would like more info about any of my #talktips, leave a comment!

#TALKTIPS DAY 08: WRITE IT LIKE YOU SAY IT

I recall this tip from that one public speaking class I had in college. I'm not entirely sure, but I think I may have adopted this as my overall writing style, even when I'm not writing a talk. I type exactly what plays in my mind. :D

The idea is to not get hung-up on formal writing technique, to let everything flow nice and naturally. I find it helps keep things moving along when you need to get things out of your head. We can always clean things up in steps down the road, as long as we've given ourselves a reasonable amount of time to write the talk in. None of this night-before business, OK!

 

Note: All tips written for my #talktips #30days challenge are written in 5 minutes or less.
If you have more questions, thoughts or would like more info about any of my #talktips, leave a comment!

 

#TALKTIPS DAY 07: TOO MANY THINGS

I almost always have way more talking points than I need by the time I've put together an outline. Editing can be really challenging. What goes? What stays?

Here's a trick I learned quite by accident that, so far, has proven to be really awesome and useful.

This Spring, I did a "5-minute Lightning Talk" at CocoaConf Portland. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, I volunteered with maybe two hours to shape the idea into a 5-minute talk. I'd had this idea for a talk I wanted to do that was a continuation (part II) of my "Burnout" talk. 
Boiling the ideas down into something I could communicate within 5 minutes helped me narrow down A LOT of ideas into what the most important ones are. And I've since teased those out into 20, 30 and 60-minute talks. The core message remains the same. 

 

Note: All tips written for my #talktips #30days challenge are written in 5 minutes or less.
if you have more questions or would like more info about any of my #talktips, leave a comment!

#TALKTIPS DAY 06: ORGANIZE INTO AN OUTLINE

Once I've done #talktips 1-5 (Who I'm talking to, What I'm talking about, How long I should be talking) I begin breaking all my thoughts and notes into an outline. Since, to date, most of my talks have had accompanying slides, I create my outline in a Keynote deck (I used to use Illustrator artboards to make my slides, switched to Keynote about a year ago.) It's extra handy if the conference organizers have provided projector/screen specifications so I can start at the correct size. When in doubt I go with good ol' 4:3 aspect ratio.

My slides almost always contain only one word. From there I use the "notes" area to write out the meat of my thoughts around that one-word prompt. If I absolutely must have more than one word on a slide, I'll do it, but I mostly try to avoid more words.

I only started doing this approach a year or so ago, which was part of my reason for switching to Keynote over Illustrator. It allows me to move things around a lot more easily.

Bonus:
While I've put some thought at this point into the aesthetic of the slide (minimally, background color and font choice), I don't spend much time on the visual aspects until I've got a pretty tightly flowing talk happening. I've spent far too many hours working on making/searching for art for slides that end up dropped, now I save this part for later.
 

Note: All tips written for my #talktips #30days challenge are written in 5 minutes or less.
if you have more questions or would like more info about any of my #tinytips, leave a comment!

#TALKTIPS DAY 05: KNOW YOUR TARGET TIME (+bonus plan B)

Know how long the talk you plan to give is going to be and aim to hit it.

I've been doing this a while now and I do not always hit the mark to the minute, I get better with time and practice like everyone should. That said, one sure sign of a beginner or someone who hasn't practiced their talk a few times, is timing. We almost always blow through our talk way faster than we meant to when we're first starting out. A handful of folks go way over on the time. I think if we're within 5 minutes + or -, we're in the safety zone. 

Bonus Plan B:
If there's a Q&A portion in the talk time window and/or you end way earlier than you meant to, like 36 minutes into a 60 minute time slot, or even right on time with a reasonable time budget for Q&A there's a chance no one will have questions for you. You still have a responsibility to fill the time window you were charged with filling, be prepared with a few of your own questions that you can spark audience participation with. 
 

Note: All tips written for my #talktips #30days challenge are written in 5 minutes or less.
if you have more questions or would like more info about any of my #talktinytips, leave a comment!

#TALKTIPS DAY 04: WRITE AN EXTRACT

An extract is a brief paragraph that sets expectations around the value of your talk, and what the audience can expect to take away. (literal definition below.)

This often changes for me after the talk is fully written, but I do an extract early on because I find it helps me stay focused on the message I really want to deliver in my talk. And, whether you're already lined up to speak at a conference or you're planning to submit to speak at a conference, an extract is what they need from you.

Here's an example of one of my own works-in-progress:
Working Title: Kill Your Baby & Sell Your S#!%
Extract: A talk with a mission to help every designer and developer in the world let go a little bit and communicate their ideas much, much better. Salvation for the sanity in business, design & dev collaboration.

Image Source: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=what%20is%20an%20extract

Image Source: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=what%20is%20an%20extract

Note: All tips written for my #talktips #30days challenge are written in 5 minutes or less.
if you have more questions or would like more info about any of my #talktips, leave a comment!

 

#TALKTIPS DAY 03: MAKE NOTES OF MAIN IDEAS

Once I've got my topics narrowed down to two or three that I'm sure I want to run with, I start making notes about each one. My method for this changes occasionally. I've done this on 5x7 cards (which I use for many life tasks), sticky notes, something digital. Whatever works. I jot down some notes that help expand how the talk might play out.

Not quite bullet points (yet), this stage isn't that organized. This is thought-flow simply to get ideas out of my head and into the world. I can organize them later. This is more like a post-topic brainstorm session.

I also find it's helpful if I time myself on this step, no more than 10 minutes. Whichever topic ends up having the notes with the most legs to build a talk out with, wins! (And it's good to have the others as a fall-back, or future talk.)

 

Note: All tips written for my #talktips #30days challenge are written in 5 minutes or less.
if you have more questions or would like more info about any of my #talktips, leave a comment!

#TALKTIPS DAY 02: CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC

"I want to do a talk, but I have no idea what to talk about" might be one of the things I hear the most.
Topics for me come from my own experiences and how I've answered my own questions in learning/succeeding/fumbling/failing. For example:

Questions/Situations that arise in my day-to-day.
One of my upcoming talks is called, "Kill Your Baby, Sell Your S#!%" - This talk shares some crucial tactics specifically for designers and developers on how to let go of their work enough to completely change it, but also the art of selling their work and/or ideas to their clients or internal teams. This comes from something I find myself helping many of my design and developer team clients work through a great deal of the time and spans all the way back to what I used to teach my students of Graphic Design/Interface Design at UNLV.

Real experiences I'm having, or have worked through. Sometimes these are product design lessons learned like "Designing for Emotional Engagement". Sometimes these are life things like "Through Burnout and Back Again."

How do YOU come up with talk topics?


Note: All tips written for my #talktips #30days challenge are written in 5 minutes or less.
if you have more questions or would like more info about any of my #tinytips, leave a comment!

 

 

#TALKTIPS DAY 01: Know Your Target Audience

I tend to speak at a lot of developer conferences, and a few design conferences. Every now and then I'm asked to bring some of my talks to present in-house at companies, everything from financial institutions to animation studios, all around the world.
It's really important to know WHO I'm going to be speaking to so I can make sure I'm sharing my message in a way that audience will connect with. I can make sure any cultural references don't get lost in translation, and that things that may be funny in one part of the world are still funny in another. 

 

Note: All tips written for my #talktips #30days challenge are written in 5 minutes or less.
if you have more questions, thoughts or would like more info about any of my #talktips, leave a comment!

 

#TALKTIPS - a #30days challenge

Hello world!

While I've been pretty busy with my #31days challenges, I am about to kick off a #30days challenge just to keep the momentum flowing.

Starting Sept. 1, I will post 1 tip per day on the topic of:
WRITING & GIVING CONFERENCE TALKS

THE RULES:
• 1 tip per day, 30 consecutive days
• Tip must be written in 5 minutes or less
• I will share the tip on "the social medias" and on this blog upon completion

Hashtags: #30days #talktips

I encourage you to join. It's all in good fun, the more the merrier.

You can choose your own topic, or click here for a bunch of ideas!