Successful technical talks hinge upon making a deep connection with the audience on an emotional and rational level. This talk will help technical people frame their ideas, prepare efficiently, and deliver on the day of the talk.
Taming the Technical Talk
Rackspace Tech Talk Tuesday -- January 5, 2016
Who am I?
I started at
Rackspace in 2006
I love Fedora Linux,
I root for underdogs
Astros, and SELinux)
I own over
60 domain names
(I have a problem)
I enjoy being the
whipping boy for new
I love watching that
Keith Morrison guy
on Dateline NBC
(orrrr, do I?)
1. My amazingly horrific
2. What this presentation is really
3. Changing the world
This talk is NOT about
how to make good slides
(although I’ll cover that briefly later)
This talk is about
how to make an IMPACT
(cue the dramatic music here)
Making a point
“If you have an important
point to make, don't try to
be subtle or clever. Use a
pile driver. Hit the point
once. Then come back and
hit it again. Then hit it a
third time - a tremendous
― Winston S. Churchill
This may work for some people,
but let’s choose something more
productive (and HR-friendly).
overcame his early fear of
audiences by imagining that
each of them was sitting
-- Dorothy Samoff
Speech Can Change Your Life
Imagine that everyone in your audience
signed a contract to do ONE THING
you ask of them during your talk.
We like redundancy and high availability.
Pick three things.
An elephant is a great
metaphor for human emotion.
The biggest elephants are
11 feet tall and 12,000 pounds.
That’s a LOT of inertia.
Something that big will go where it wants
to go. Convincing a six ton animal to
change directions isn’t easy.
However, it can be done.
“The best and most
beautiful things in the
world cannot be seen or
even touched. They must
be felt with the heart.”
-- Helen Keller
Appeal to the audience’s emotions by
taking them on a journey with you
Your audience must connect with you
on an emotional level
if you want to change their minds.
If you get the elephant moving in a
it will have LOTS of momentum.
Use an anecdote of a previous failure
and how you overcame it
Use humor to gently highlight
the behavior you want to change
Your audience can tell when
you don’t care about your topic
The elephant is rumbling
in a new direction.
What do you do now?
to the rider
Unlike the elephant, the rider
responds well to reason
The rider can make small adjustments to
the elephant’s path based on reason.
However, the rider will
get tired quickly if the elephant
is going in a very different direction.
Shaping the path
Now that the audience
understands your message and
wants to take action, what do
they do now?
Offer a challenge with a simple
Provide links to documentation
and/or your code repository
One-step installations are helpful
All of your preparation, effort,
and emotional investment
is worth nothing
if you can’t deliver it
Timeframe for preparing a talk
DEMANDS, APPEAL, AND OUTLINE MAKE SLIDES PRACTICE
My rule of thumb:
One hour of preparation per five minutes of talking time
(That’s six hours of preparation for a half hour talk)
50% 25% 25%
Slides exist to ENHANCE your talk,
not REPLACE or DISTRACT from it.
Bullets are okay
But they can get
out of hand quickly
Keep them brief
Make them useful
Appendices for long comments
Keep the slides moving.
Get a new slide on screen
every one to two minutes (or faster).
Record audio while
It’s less stressful than
You can focus on what you’re
saying, not how you look
when you’re saying it
Refine your slides, your
speech, or both as you listen
to the playback
Share your talk with friends or
coworkers for new perspectives
Handling questions without rambling
Provide three short responses, calling out the number each time
Past, present, future
Compare the past, how it is today, and a desired state
(Good for difficult/pointy questions)
● Photo of the elephant by itself: "Serengeti Elefantenbulle" by Ikiwaner - Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Commons
● Elephant rider: Flickr: Tim Bayman - https://www.flickr.com/photos/19762723@N00/132788464/
● Path along the mountainside: Flickr: Martin Pilát - https://www.flickr.com/photos/40451021@N07/10852460074/
● Threw it on the ground: http://gorekayke.deviantart.com/art/Threw-it-on-the-GROUND-260550800
● Delivery motorcycle: By Kamyar Adl (originally posted to Flickr as Tissue Delivery) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.
org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
● Cat and microphone: Flickr: ocean yamaha - https://www.flickr.com/photos/oceanyamaha/7091324605
● Presentation slide with car: PCWorld - http://www.pcworld.com/article/203396/worlds_worst_powerpoint_presentations.
● Winston Churchill photo: By United Nations Information Office, New York [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
● Major at Fedora Flock 2015: Kushal Das -- https://kushaldas.in/posts/day-2-of-flock-2015.html
● Old train photo: Ben Brooksbank [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia
● Suggestion box: By Hash Milhan (Flickr: suggestion box) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via