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Taming the Technical Talk

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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.

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Taming the Technical Talk

  1. 1. Taming the Technical Talk Major Hayden @majorhayden Rackspace Tech Talk Tuesday -- January 5, 2016
  2. 2. Who am I? I started at Rackspace in 2006 I love Fedora Linux, python, OpenStack, and information security I root for underdogs (including Houston Texans, Houston Astros, and SELinux) I own over 60 domain names (I have a problem) I enjoy being the whipping boy for new technologies I love watching that Keith Morrison guy on Dateline NBC (orrrr, do I?)
  3. 3. Agenda 1. My amazingly horrific breakthrough moment 2. What this presentation is really about 3. Changing the world
  4. 4. My amazingly horrific breakthrough moment
  5. 5. Achievement unlocked!
  6. 6. This talk is NOT about how to make good slides (although I’ll cover that briefly later)
  7. 7. This talk is about how to make an IMPACT (cue the dramatic music here)
  8. 8. 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 whack.” ― Winston S. Churchill
  9. 9. Where do I start?
  10. 10. Getting over the fear This may work for some people, but let’s choose something more productive (and HR-friendly). “Winston Churchill overcame his early fear of audiences by imagining that each of them was sitting there naked.” -- Dorothy Samoff Speech Can Change Your Life
  11. 11. Imagine that everyone in your audience signed a contract to do ONE THING you ask of them during your talk.
  12. 12. We’re nerds. We like redundancy and high availability. Pick three things.
  13. 13. These make up the backbone of your talk.
  14. 14. We speak to change the world It starts with an appeal to something inside every person in your audience. (Sorry, we’re going to get mushy here.)
  15. 15. Three concepts for appealing to an audience
  16. 16. Dancing with Loxodonta africana
  17. 17. An elephant is a great metaphor for human emotion.
  18. 18. The biggest elephants are 11 feet tall and 12,000 pounds. That’s a LOT of inertia.
  19. 19. 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.
  20. 20. “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” -- Helen Keller
  21. 21. Appeal to the audience’s emotions by taking them on a journey with you
  22. 22. Your audience must connect with you on an emotional level if you want to change their minds.
  23. 23. If you get the elephant moving in a different direction, it will have LOTS of momentum.
  24. 24. Examples: Use an anecdote of a previous failure and how you overcame it Use humor to gently highlight the behavior you want to change
  25. 25. WARNING: Your audience can tell when you don’t care about your topic
  26. 26. Success! The elephant is rumbling in a new direction. What do you do now?
  27. 27. Appealing to the rider Unlike the elephant, the rider responds well to reason Facts Statistics Examples Comparisons Demonstrations
  28. 28. 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.
  29. 29. 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 implementation Provide links to documentation and/or your code repository One-step installations are helpful here
  30. 30. Making a special delivery
  31. 31. All of your preparation, effort, and emotional investment is worth nothing if you can’t deliver it
  32. 32. 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%
  33. 33. Let’s talk about slides
  34. 34. Slides exist to ENHANCE your talk, not REPLACE or DISTRACT from it.
  35. 35. Bullets are okay But they can get out of hand quickly Keep them brief Make them useful Appendices for long comments
  36. 36. Keep the slides moving. Get a new slide on screen every one to two minutes (or faster).
  37. 37. Record audio while you practice It’s less stressful than recording video 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
  38. 38. Share your talk with friends or coworkers for new perspectives
  39. 39. BREATHE Seriously. You’ll thank me later.
  40. 40. Handling questions without rambling 1-2-3 method 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)
  41. 41. Feedback is a gift
  42. 42. “The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives.” -– Lilly Walters
  43. 43. Thank you! @majorhayden - https://major.io/ - major@mhtx.net
  44. 44. Photo credits ● Photo of the elephant by itself: "Serengeti Elefantenbulle" by Ikiwaner - Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Serengeti_Elefantenbulle.jpg ● 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. html ● 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 Commons ● Suggestion box: By Hash Milhan (Flickr: suggestion box) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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