Ten Tips to Make Conference Talks Suck Less - Gunnar Morling

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2022-06-23 16:30:12

Every so often, I come across some conference talk which is highly interesting in terms of its actual contents, but which unfortunately is presented in a less than ideal way. I’m thinking of basic mistakes here, such as the presenter primarily looking at their slides rather than at the audience. I’m always feeling a bit sorry when this happens, as I firmly believe that everyone can do good and even great talks, just by being aware of — and thus avoiding — a few common mistakes, and sticking to some simple principles.

Now, who am I to give any advice on public speaking? Indeed I’m not a professional full-time speaker, but I do enjoy presenting on technologies which I am working on or with as part of my job. Over time, I’ve come to learn about a few techniques which I felt helped me to give better talks. A few simple things, which can be easy to get wrong, but which make a big difference for the perception of your talk. Do I always stick to them myself? I try my best, but sometimes, I fail ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

In particular if you have done a few talks already and you start feeling comfortable, it can be tempting to think you could just wing it and skip the rehearsal for your next one. After all, it can feel weird to be alone in your room and speak aloud all by yourself. I highly recommend to not fall for that — rehearsing a talk is absolutely vital for making it successful. It will help you to develop a consistent line of argument and identify any things you otherwise may forget to mention. Only proper rehearsing will give you that natural flow you want to have for a talk.

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