The metsitaba newsletter for tech speakers, 20 Dec 2017

How do you ensure consistent and high-quality delivery of your talk each time your get up on stage and face an audience? It is not simply a matter of skill or practice. There are many small things to remember, and unless you use a checklist, you will forget some of them.

As you may have noticed, last weeks edition of this newsletter contained a rather embarrassing flaw—the conference descriptions did not match the conference detail bullet lists. I forgot to update the conference descriptions. I use mental checklists a lot and find them to be very effective. I use one before publishing this newsletter. I run through the checklist in my head while reviewing the final draft.

But clearly, a checklist that is only in your head is not sufficient. The human brain is too fallible. I need a more formal approach. This mistake also made me realize that a formal checklist for my conference talks may not be a bad idea too. This is not to say that you should not use a mental checklist. You need both.

The other advantage of a formal checklist, apart from more consistent delivery, is that you can measure yourself and work out where you keep going wrong. Do you always end up searching your email as you walk in the door of the conference hall trying to look for the time and location of your talk? I do that one a lot. An easy solution is to take a screenshot of the email and then you have it available as your most recent photo. But of course you have to remember to do this at the hotel first before you leave!

The formal checklisting approach that I use for work-related tasks is simple to implement. Create spreadsheet. On the leftmost column, write in each checklist item. On the top rows, write in the date and details of each upcoming talk. As you complete tasks for the talk, tick them off by marking the relevant cell for each task and date. This grid structure lets you manage multiple upcoming talks, and also lets you measure how effective you are at getting organized for a talk. You should aim to tick off the last item just before you leave the hotel in the morning.
 

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Here is a screenshot of a simple talk checklist to get you started. These are very individual, so you will need to develop your own one. You may be tempted to use a to-do list application instead. If you have one you prefer, then don’t let me stop you. I find that grid format that a spreadsheet provides to be more useful as it gives you an overview of all of your upcoming talks.

You can really go to town on these checklists. I’ve included links to a number of blog posts with good advice below. As you do more talks, some of these items will become second nature, so it does get a little easier.

Finally, you do still need to maintain a mental checklist. You run through this when you are waiting to go on stage. This checklist has to be short and sweet. Here’s mine:

  • Laptop wifi and notifications turned off. This avoids annoying popup alerts in the middle of your talk.
  • Mobile phone turned completely off. Muting or airplane mode is not enough, you can still get all manner of notifications.
  • Slide deck application open and ready to go, with all other applications closed, including your mail!
  • Opening words ready to go. You should know what you are going to say first before going on stage. This gets you past your starting nerves.
  • One or two references to previous talks noted and ready to use. Don’t try to do this if you are not yet an experience speaker. Once you are, definitely do it as it really enhances your audience connection.

 
You can get slightly more sophisticated if you use visual memorization techniques, but I tend to save those for the talk content itself. I’ll write about memory techniques in a future newsletter—they can be very useful.
 


As I mentioned above, last week I messed up the conference descriptions. I decided to feature them again, corrected, so this week we have six conferences. This weeks ones are listed first.

Can I ask you for a favor? If you enjoy this newsletter, and if you find it useful, please consider recommending it to a friend who is learning to give technical talks, or who aspires to do so. I meet so many cool programmers who have brilliant things to share with the world—that’s you!

Please help me to improve this newsletter - I'd love to hear your suggestions! You can email me directly: richard@metsitaba.com. You can tweet too: @metsitaba. Thank you so much for reading!

A special thanks and shout out to Tammy and Cora for helping to make this newsletter even better!

Richard
@rjrodger

Speaker Profile

 

Barry Strauss
Applying Lessons from Ancients to Modern Business Culture [V]

... Alexander the Great, Hannibal and Julius Caesar were three of history’s most disruptive leaders. Alexander and Caesar each conquered an empire and Hannibal revolutionized the art of warfare, using branding as a tool to enhance his reputation and inspire his soldiers. The significant women in their lives - mothers, wives, and mistresses - challenged and inspired their visions of empire and ability to gain loyal followers. Each leader recruited talent, fostered individual initiative and shared sacrifice, while promoting multiculturalism, advocating populism and raising the banner of liberation...
 

Learn from the best

 

Severn Cullis-Suzuki
The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes [V]

Hello, I’m Severn Suzuki speaking for E.C.O. The Environmental Children’s Organisation.  We are a group of twelve and thirteen year olds trying to make a difference: Vanessa Suttie, Morgan Geisler, Michelle Quigg and me.  We raised all the money to come here ourselves, to come five thousand miles to tell you adults you must change your ways.

Coming up here today, I have no hidden agenda.  I am fighting for my future.
Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market.

I am here to speak for all generations to come, I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard.  I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go.


We don’t often have the opportunity to think about the things that matter to us, our ideals and values, If you had just one opportunity to make your voice heard, what would you say, how would you say it and who would you say it to.

These are important questions for every speaker as you need to know yourself and understand your own values and priorities to be an effective speaker.  If you know what’s important to you it can be used in any speech to connect with your audience, you need to speak about what you are passionate about in order to be heard.
 

 

The Checklist Manifesto
Atul Gawande

There are not many books that give you an instant tool that you can easily use in multiple areas of your life. This is one such book. You think you know checklists, but you don't. There is an art to using them, and a practice, that Gawande carefully explains.

 

The Essential Speaker Checklist

With a million things to remember before your presentation, forgetting a key element can put you off kilter, and even jeopardize your ability to deliver your talk. With this in mind, we have drawn on our collective experience here at SpeakerHub to create this useful checklist for public speakers...

How to Prepare: a Checklist For Great Talks

Before the event; Leaving for the event; At the event; After the event. Scott Berkun knows his stuff—each phase is broken down into a sublist. And there's a handy PDF.

Tech Conference Speaker Checklist

Short and sweet and to the point!

 

Six Conferences!

 

AI Assistant Summit

Join data scientists, data engineers, developers, entrepreneurs and more for the next generation of predictive intelligence. Extraordinary speakers covering tops such as deep learning algorithms, connected homes, and neural networks, to name just a few. This summit is also co-located with the Deep Learning Summit and the Women In AI Dinner, so be sure to check those out too.

 

Wonder Women Tech

In its third year, JeffConf focuses on Severless and the practical use of function as a service platform. A one day, community focused, single track centered on real world Serverless (aka Jeff) based solutions. It’s about fostering a community and helping to learn from each other and embracing a new way of building applications. Taking place in Hamburg, Germany’s “second city,” which has been voted the top city in the world for a night out! Who knew?

 

 

DevFest KC

DevFest KC is part of a larger group of Google related events hosted by the Google Developer Group and specially crafted by the local GDG community. You can expect each event to be unique and powered by the idea that amazing things happen when developers come together to exchange ideas. You can’t go wrong with world-class speakers, great topics, and fun all wrapped up in a community organised conference.

 

JeffConf

In its third year, JeffConf focuses on Severless and the practical use of function as a service platform. A one day, community focused, single track centered on real world Serverless (aka Jeff) based solutions. It’s about fostering a community and helping to learn from each other and embracing a new way of building applications. Taking place in Hamburg, Germany’s “second city,” which has been voted the top city in the world for a night out! Who knew?

 

48forward

48forward is organising events about innovation and future topics. It focuses on trends, visions, new technologies and general development, looking to the effects in the future and finding solutions to new problems. If you want to shape the future, make your way to Munich - the world famous Bavarian capital and high tech innovation hotspot.

 

ScalaMatsuri

 

The largest international Scala conference in Asia will be held in March 2018 in Tokyo to include training sessions prior to the conference. The conference and unconference will be held in both Japanese and English, while the trainings sessions will be in Japanese only. Cherry blossom season will just be getting started, so if you’re lucky, you might catch the blooms in action! 

CFP Calendar

These are the CFP deadline dates and submission pages.