This is a set of guidelines that I have been ramming home to
members of the various event lists (IT.COM, Bang!inux, Linux Bangalore) for
years. -- Atul Chitnis
Be clear about what kind of audience you are planning to address. Going
hyper-tech on a poor unsuspecting non-tech audience can get you into trouble.
Audience could be anything between 7 to 700 people in the
hall. No matter what size the audience is - give it your best.
If you have a huge audience, you will *not* take questions
during the talk (anything over 20 is huge). Instead, questions
can be taken *after* the talk.
Have the points clearly listed (in your slide show which
you will have to submit by the 25th of November) or you don't have a talk.
Adhoc talks are not a good idea, no matter how proficient you are.
30 minutes talk time is ideal.
You don't get breaks - you need to vary tempo, points, and interesting stuff.
Point to Remember - at the 45 minute mark, we will switch off your mike
and drag you (kicking and screaming) off the stage, unless we see that the
audience is still with you.
Do not go into too much detail.
Do not try to compress a 4 year computer science course into
Points, not explanations. The whole idea behind your talk is
that *you* will give the explanation. If you make slides with lots of
text on it in terms of explanation, send them to us, we will put them on
the web site and cancel your talk. ;-)
On an average, assume 5 minutes per slide. A 30 minute talk would have
no more than 6-10 slides. Avoid slide builds, fancy transitions and
stuff Powerpoint pushes as "features". They are basically to cover up
for the fact that your talk has no real content and your slides are lousy - they
impress no one, and slow you down.
Everyone gets it. Including professional speakers. The
difference between a pro and a chicken is that the chicken chickens
out in the last moment, the pros say "worst case, they'll hate me" and
proceed with their talk.
A Speaker who supports an argument with "Windows sux" is
history. Make statements you *can* support with facts. If you say
"Linux is 10 times faster than Windows", be prepared to *prove* it
with references to actual tests.
If you cannot stand the thought of standing before a
mirror and talking your entire presentation through, you have no chance on
earth of surviving an audience. Practice, practice, practice, and then (when
you think you got it right) have a friend/brother/sister adept at heckling
sit in front of you and ask questions throughout your talk. See if you can
stay on track, or lose it completely. Chances are the latter - which
means more practice.
If you expect people to line up to get your autograph
after the talk or throw their underwear at you, please look for me and I may
have a bridge to sell you (only lightly used). Don't overexpect
A good reaction is that they don't tar and feather you. A better
reaction is mild applause. A *really* good reaction is lots of questions.
If you don't get questions (especially if it is a technical talk), it does
not mean that you did well and they understood everything - it means that
you probably weren't clear enough and they didn't understand a word you
said. Or they just fell asleep because you talked too long.
Remember - to an audience, a guy who can cover the matter in 30
minutes, comes across clearly, has slides with good points in big font
sizes, knows his subject and *respects the audience* is a hero.
The idea is to come across as competent people spreading useful
knowledge. If someone walks out of the hall saying "I learned something
today", you have done more for Linux than a thousand installs ever
- No more than 5 points per slide
- No more than 1 line of text per point
- No less than 28 point text
- No more than 1 font in points
- Go easy on colours - red on green background is *bad*
- Try and include the event logo in your slides
- Have a last slide with contact information for you
- Avoid builds and transitions
- 5 minutes per slide is good
- 5 slides per minute is bad