A couple weeks ago I gave the first MHVLUG talk of the year on the work I’ve done with Drupal for the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association, and MHVLUG. I think it went well, but it’s sometimes hard to tell, especially because I’ve been trying out some new approaches on talks, so feedback comes in different ways.
When I was building the Android presentation for CPOSC, I realized I was building a generic Android tutorial, and I stopped myself. Why would anyone want to hear me give that presentation? You can get that all over the internets, on the youtubes and vimeos of the world. So, I thought long and hard about what I could uniquely bring to the table. The answer was pretty simple, talk about the things that I racked my brain on, in the context that I ran into them when building my application.
This drupal talk was much the same. Two days before the talk, while doing a dry run at home, I realized that I had a tutorial that was better covered by the internets. So, I started over, and edited heavily, and managed to produce a personal narrative of working with the PFP that showed the nuts and bolts of Drupal along the way. It was a much better presentation. It also made it easier to put a call for action in the presentation, for people to get involved with local non profits.
Because this was a narrative, and not a tutorial, the audience interaction is very different. People stop and ask clarification during a tutorial, but questions during a story are often considered rude. This led to a very distinct boundary between talk, running just about an hour, and questions, which carried for 30 minutes after that. Without questions during the talk, it’s a little harder to tell if people are engaged. I do have a vivid image in my head of looking out out on the audience and even the laptop folks were all eyes up and watching, so I think I succeeded there. The 30 minutes of questions, coming from at least 8 different people, helped reinforce that.
I also made a few mechanical changes to the presentation in Open Office, which others might find interesting. I’ve moved to using Fade Smoothly (Fast) for slide transitions, and Fade In (Fast) for element animation. Getting rid of the hard appear makes the whole thing feel more fluid, and as long as it’s fast, it doesn’t get in the way.
I also realized that when you put up a slide you feel like it should get your time, but sometimes there is nothing really to add. I had a brief walk through of drupal installation. During dry run I realized I spent way too much time talking about slides with relatively little talk worthly content. To keep myself honest during the talk I made those slides automatically advance after 5 or 10 seconds (depending on complexity). That meant I got all of that on screen, but capped it to 40 seconds, and didn’t find myself saying something like “what more can I say about this slide”.
Overall I think things went quite well, and am now looking forward to the ACM talk tomorrow night.