Your first talk

Hi there folks. It’s been a long time since I wrote on this blog. I have been very busy with university applications. A lot has happened recently which I will love to share with you. Firstly, I got a news from a friend that my book is being used in McGill University to teach Python programming. That is something I have always wanted, write a book which is used by well-known universities to teach programming. But this post is not about that. I wanted to share how to deliver a good first talk. People dread sharing their first talk with the world because it is mostly filled with “aaahhh"s and fast paced speech but I am

sharing mine so that you guys know what “not” to do during your first talk.

1. Keep the slides short

We fail to realize the importance of this. Let me share the theory behind it. When you display a slide with everything written on it people will be able to read it much more quickly than you will be able to explain it. This makes your talk boring because the audience has to listen to everything which they have already read on the slide. A good rule of thumb is to write only one or two short phrases. Don’t write their explanation on the slide. Write those explanations in notes.

2. Use simple transitions

This is also important, especially for tech talks. People are there to look at the quality of content in your presentation not to look at super cool transitions. The major issue with using elaborate transitions is that they take up a lot of time of your talk which could have been used to present a couple of more interesting ideas. Another issue is that they take the focus away from you and the content of your presentation. We need to retain as much attention on you and the content as possible. Hence a short and simple sliding transition is all you need. However, if you really want to use fancy stuff try to keep it brief so that it doesn’t overshadow your main presentation.

3. Speak slowly

In my talk you can clearly see how fast I am speaking. It was due to nervousness. I can safely say that I speak much more slowly now and it is much more easy to understand whatever I say. Make sure that you speak slowly during your talk. Most first-time speakers don’t discuss this because they feel they have already got this under control. However, I have seen a lot of first-time speakers making the same mistake. Make sure that you pace yourself and speak each word clearly. The pace of your speech can make or break your talk.

4. Vary your tone

At PyCons, specifically, the normal talk size is 30-35 minutes. If you keep your tone same throughout it becomes monotonous. You will loose people’s attention very quickly and in extreme cases it might lead to people abandoning your talk.

5. Don’t Code Live in front of an Audience

Never ever code live if it is within your power. It is because a lot of unforeseen issues can crop up on the day of the presentation. You might become nervous. You might not be able to type as quickly as you want to while standing. You might make typing errors. It is much better to prevent this issue altogether by not coding live.

That’s all for today. If you have some other tips for new speakers please do share them in the comments below. I love hearing from my readers.



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✍️ Comments


Good explaination of why to “Keep the slides short”

Kristian Rother

A good tech talk thrives from structure. There is a limited number of points you can make, usually one. Split it into few subpoints (3-5, not more). Usually len(subpoints) < len(slides), thus it is a good idea to start with the overall structure. If you are doing well, the most interesting stuff goes into subpoints[-1].

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