Friday, April 17, 2015

Blitz Talk Preparation Notes

Blitz Talk Preparation Notes

I have spoken about my talk at NSNorth previously here (NSNorth 2015: Stretching Myself) and here (Blitz Talk: Microsoft Band).

After giving two talks recently, here are some tips and things I plan to do for my next talks:
  • Practice speaking with a mic in my hand (I happen to have one for recording).
    • Reason: Get used to holding the mic at a steady distance to reduce volume changes.
  • Write slides a couple weeks before time and tune leading up to the event.
    • I copy my presenter notes into OneNote and then reread them and tune them over time.
  • If using autoplay (when the slides automatically advance every 15 seconds) then practice with that.
    • I practiced at first by manually progressing the slides to work on transition text between slides.
    • I figured out I could say about 3-5 sentences (a short paragraph) during the 15 seconds a slide was up.
    • Once I had the transitions worked out I started to practice with autoplay on.
    • Once I had the presenter text down, I started to practice with no presenter notes.
  • Practice speaking in front of the mirror.
    • Once I started this I felt I found a lot of flaws and was able to really improve the rhythm of the talk.
  • Stay calm
  • Make sure you use White on Black or Black on White fonts/background.
    • Some of the presenters had Grey on White, etc which bled together when the lighting was not ideal.
  • Place your twitter or email or webpage on each slide (if appropriate).
    • I put my twitter handle in the bottom left of each slide that had space available.
One complaint I received was that some slides had too much text and that since I was adding so much information it was a lot to take in. That was part of my goal to share as much information as possible and to let the slides stand alone for those that come across the slides after the talk.

Good luck on your next talk.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

NSNorth 2015: Stretching Myself

Photo: Martin Reisch

NSNorth 2015

NSNorth has come and gone and I was so happy I could make it this year. This was my first year to NSNorth and back to see my Ottawa Cocoaheads friends who run the conference and are attendees.

I few months back I had to make the decision to go to NSNorth or play the WWDC lottery (given that I am paying my way without a company to help with conferences I had saved up for one conference). So I went for NSNorth this year and figured I would skip this years WWDC lottery.

Meeting New People

Given that I am contracting now and have to be on the look out for new opportunities I decided I should stretch myself at NSNorth with a couple goals. I decided, I should throw off my shyness in a crowd and network! Though it may not appear so, I have to force myself to be outgoing in a crowd.

I think I did a decent job at it and if you did not get a business card then you missed out on one of these babies (a series of 5, each with a different color and quote about software design, I have more if you want one):

Blitz Talk (ie. Public Speaking)

I figured another good way to find opportunities would be to give a talk about the Microsoft Band SDK that I have been a part of this past year. As one of the ~15 people on the SDK team, I concentrate on testing the SDK for Apple platforms; including implementation of test infrastructure and verification of the public SDK for 3rd party use. (You can read more about my talk and see the slides at my company Blog: Blitz Talk: Microsoft Band Kit SDK.) The response was positive and many people let me know they were happy to learn about the Band and the SDK.

By far, I was way more relaxed after the Blitz Talk on Saturday morning (thanks Dan and Phil for getting me on early in the lineup). I was a bag of nerves going into the talk. I practiced a bunch but still felt unprepared going into it. This was also the largest group I have spoken in front of. There were ~120 people at the talk, with my previous talk in February being ~60.

I have not done public speaking for many years. I used to do it more often as a team lead in an previous startup and at a company where I lead process improvement and system architecture. So, after 5 years of not speaking in front of people it was a little daunting. I even had to use a hand held mic, which I was not prepared for.

Reconnecting With Friends

Another goal I had for this trip. Reconnecting with old friends I have missed on some previous trips back to Ottawa. I was able to do that by going to NSNorth and seeing my Cocoaheads and NSCoder friends. I was also able to fit in some meals/beers with coworkers from past jobs. This was an important part of the trip as well and we always try to see any many friends as we can when we get back to Ottawa.

I also got to play Hope Inhumanity by my friend Derek Gour. We had a great time playing the game at the Saturday night games night. Home Inhumanity is a survival/horror card game. It has a partial cooperative and role playing aspect to it that I think will make each play through (especially with different people) unique. Great job Derek and my copy is on the way.