Public speaking#

Slide tips#

Short and sweet:

  • Maximize use of images
  • Text as large as possible
  • No sentences
  • Max six objects per slide (title included)
  • Dark background, light text
  • Guide attention within slide with animation, contrast, and size
  • Display slide, after you’ve made the point as a reminder/illustration


Any questions?#

Many talks end with the speaker asking the audience for questions. I do not like this practice and I spoke about it with my colleagues. Below are my insights based on those talks.

There are multiple reasons to not offer questions at the end of your talk. First, you are giving someone else control of how your talk with end and, therefore how you will be remembered. If you care about what impression you leave behind then that’s easier to do if you end the talk on your terms. Second, while they say there’s no such thing as a bad question there is such a thing as a question that you don’t want to make 20, 50, or 100+ people listen to. Many questions at conferences are something along the lines of: “Have you thought of ABC?”, “I did XYZ and it worked for me, why didn’t you do that?”. Or even worse they’re not even questions at all, but a listener looking to start a discussion. None of these are bad per se in a one on one conversation. But they are bad when you force the entire audience to listen to this interaction.

So I hope I’ve convinced you that questions are not a great way to end a talk. What can you do instead? Well you can offer the audience to come to you after the talk for a chat and discuss their views afterwards.

Finally, of course for some talks questions are very welcome, such as lectures/trainings/tutorials. I still don’t like to end those talks with “any questions?”. Instead I end them with “what are your questions?”.