Recently it was my privilege to deliver the closing keynote at php[tek]. I wrote a new talk “Uncle Cal’s Career Advice to Developers”. This post isn’t about the keynote itself, but about the process of writing it and what I learned.
Telling a story is easy, telling a relevant story is hard
In “Career Advice” I tell 2 stories. To get those two stories I discarded 6-8 other stories. Some stories from my career, other stories I came across during my research. When giving a keynote it is very important that you not only tell a good story to keep the audience interested but that you tell a relevant story so that they understand where you are going.
By the way, as much as I think I chose the right stories, Samantha Quiñones story of the two researchers at Stanford and UCLA who in effect created the Internet was much better. She brought it back home at the end as well. Her’s was a story well told.
Slide count is irrelevant
The audience only saw 7 slides including my vanity slide. In reality that deck has 33 slides in it. I put a lot of content in the speaker’s notes section, but I hate having to scroll that section. So I duplicate slides…a lot. The section with the most slides had 7. All of them identical except for the speaker’s notes.
Important Note: This is very dangerous if you haven’t actually finished your slides yet. Only do this if the actual slides are finished. Otherwise, if you change one little thing on one slide, you have to change it on every duplicate of it.
Practice is very important.
I was sitting at breakfast on Thursday morning and someone asked me what I had planned for the morning. I said that after Samantha’s keynote, I was going back up to my room and do 2 run-throughs of my talk. The person I was talking to said something that took me aback. “You really take this seriously, don’t you?”
Of course I take it seriously, every speaker should. You’ve been asked to share what you know, that is important. More important though is that people are paying to attend the conference. Someone bought a ticket with seeing my talk in mind. I owe that person a good show. it needs to inform, but it also needs to entertain, or at least hold their attention. So I practice. Between Monday and Friday, I did a total of 5 complete run-throughs of the talk. (That’s why you didn’t see me in morning sessions.)
I do regret that I did not practice this talk before I arrived in St. Louis. Life intervened and I just couldn’t get it done. In the past, and in the future, I practice at home. I still try to do a complete run through on the day of the talk. This way everything is fresh in my mind.
That is my main takeaway this time. Make time to practice at home. I hate that I was in St. Louis an entire week and in the mornings I was in my hotel room and the afternoons were spent recording podcasts. So many people I did not get to meet and it’s my own fault.
Until next time,
I <3 |<