Conferences: Building your Talk

September 18, 2019

 

The time has come. Your talk was accepted, now it’s time to start preparing! You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed, but have no fear - your talk was accepted for a reason, you are already wanted at this conference. The hardest part is over, now it’s time to develop your delivery. 

 

Part two of the conferences series, we are covering building a talk. This isn't to be used as a template, more as an idea - to help you build your jam. Public speaking comes in many shapes, forms, styles, and slide decks. Let me guide you briefly through my logic, to hopefully bring on some calm and confidence for your own journey. 

 

First, before even considering the talk that I will be presenting, I ask the following questions: 

 

  1. Who is the expected audience? 

  2. What is the expected experience (i.e. CEOs, Operations Technicians, Sales, etc)

  3. What is expected audience size?

  4. Type of room/talk (i.e. lecture style, layout/feel, interactive breakout session, etc) 

  5. Ii internet is expected / not available in the room? 

  6. What facilities are available to you? (i.e. voting buttons, slide clicker, projector, lapel mic, etc.)

  7. Is a live demo required? If yes, I will record a backup video for any issues or poor connection on the day

  8. Will your talk be recorded? Will it be shared publicly, or to the attendees? 

  9. Will your slides be expected to be shared? 

  10. Should handouts be provided? 

 

With those answered, I can then begin. First step, I write down a bullet point list of the key messages I want to get across. If I’ve submitted an abstract, I identify the key messages in that submission and call each one out explicitly. 

 

Let’s use the example of Ferrets: Nature’s Hackers:

 

  • Defining ferrets and hackers 

  • Be sensitive to change in the environment 

  • Building a comfortable and warm place 

  • Take time out to play 

  • Be attractive to other ferrets: maximise cuteness 

 

Now that I have my agenda roughly defined, I begin building out the content on these slides. 

 

  1. Definitions

    • Ferrets: mischievous beings, with the goal of acquiring what others don’t want to share with them.

    • Hackers: mind-set of what can I make this do, for me. 

  2. Environments

    • Ferrets: can identify changes in mood of family, awareness of persons who mean harm, and unique capability to pursue something until everyone gives up on keeping it away from them. 

    • Hackers: persistent, zero-trust personality, take what is needed. 

  3. Play time

    • Ferrets: helps hone skills and well it’s fun.

    • Hackers: ditto.

  4. Social engineering 

    • Ferrets: appear adorable, whilst stealing keys.

    • Hackers: convince user to take actions that benefit hacker, whilst user believes it was their decision.

  5. Take aways

    • Ferrets are nature’s hackers, and we should celebrate this by adopting office ferrets.

    • Hire hackers to identify vulnerabilities, and build solutions with security and privacy by default.

 

Guess what, we have created a rough draft of our slides - likely little more than a few words on a page - and even considered what we want people to walk away with. Hello progress! From slides on-wards, I review: 

 

  • ‘War stories’ I have that are relevant, 

  • News media pieces that the audience can relate to, and 

  • Any research I want to reference or review for clarifications. 

 

At this point in my preparations, I feel a bit more confident, so I try to challenge myself more and review the expected audience, skill level, and interests to make sure my talk aligns even closer. 

 

Following the creation of my talk, I prepare to attend the conference, which will be detailed in part three of the conferences series.

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ZOË ROSE

©2019 by Zoë Rose.