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.
But going "doh-newbie" on a technically savvy audience is asking for *big*
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. Don't get distracted during question
sessions - remember, if you waste time on someone who doesn't get it
in the 60 seconds that you take to answer his question, you are depriving
others of time to ask questions. If an answer would take too long, ask the
person to meet you after the talk.
You will have to submit your final Slide show for your talk *LATEST* by the
15th of November or you don't have a talk, because we will not schedule it.
All talk slideshows will be published on our website and made available to
LUGs and other organisations on CD.
Adhoc talks are not a good idea, no matter how proficient you are. So spend
time preparing your talks, and that means create a proper outline, identify
what you will be talking about and what the audience's take-home will be.
Then create the slide show,
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 (in which case we give you another 5 minutes).
Do not go into too much detail.
Do not try to compress a 4 year computer science course into 30 minutes.
Do not present a superficial and "heavy on concepts, light on detail" talk -
unlike previous years, we want talks to be practical. Don't try to give a
talk simply to be a able to say that you spoke at the event. If we find that
there is too little (or too much) detail (both of which are clear signs of
badly prepared talks), we will nix it.
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.
Also remember that a large proportion of your audience is likely to be users
of Windows and *possibly* Linux and other open source technologies. You
don't insult your audience - remember, they have come to learn, not to be
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.
Please remember that the king of the show is the audience, not the speakers.
We will do everything in our power to ensure that the audience has a great
experience - and this includes scrapping a talk we are not confident of -
even in the last minute.
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 speaker who can cover the matter in 30
minutes, comes across clearly, has slides with good points in big font
sizes, knows the 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
There are some topics we simply will not entertain:
If we need to choose from two identical talks topics, we will choose the
talk that clearly has more "take-home" for the audience, which means more
practical stuff and more indepth stuff (without "flooding" the audience, of
- Any topic that has been covered in the previous editions of this event.
Go check the schedules of those events and make sure that your topic isn't
- Any topic that sounds like a basic Linux installation talk. Give the
world a break - a kid with a blindfold and one arm tied behind her back can
install Linux these days.
- Any topic that is designed to "bash" - for example distro bashing ("xyz
Linux rocks, abc Linux sucks").
- Any topic designed to pull down somebody else.
- Any talk that is "flat" - i.e. totally superficial, and does not
provide any depth.
- 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
In the past, we have found some "speakers" trying to get a talk slot
claiming their talk is about Linux or open source, but in reality being a
completely unrelated topic (for example "Linux in Medicine", but the talk is
only about some medical stuff, with no relation to the event theme).
Do not even try to submit a talk of that sort - if you do, we will
automatically blacklist you for future events.