Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What I like and don't like to see in a technical presentation

What I like to see:

  • Live demo of the technology/tool/process you are describing (or at least a screencast)
  • Lessons learned -- the most interesting ones are the failures
  • If you're presenting something you created:
    • compare and contrast it with existing solutions 
    • convince me you're not suffering from the NIH syndrome
    • convince me your creation was born out of necessity, ideally from issues you needed to solve in production
  • Hard data (charts/dashboards)
  • Balance between being too shallow and going too deep when covering your topic
    • keep in mind both the HOW and the WHY of the topic
  • Going above and beyond the information I can obtain with a simple Google search for that topic
  • Pointers to any tools/resources you reference (GitHub pages preferred)

What I don't like to see:

  • Cute slides with images and only a couple of words (unless you provide generous slide notes in some form)
  • Humor is fine, but not if it's all there is
  • Hand-waving / chest-pounding
  • Vaporware
  • No knowledge of existing solutions with established communities
    • you're telling me you're smarter than everybody else in the room but you're not backing up that assertion
  • Simple usage examples that I can also get via Google searches
  • Abandoning the WHY for the HOW
  • Abandoning the HOW for the WHY


matt harrison said...

Is there a reason this is showing up after PyCon ? :)

Grig Gheorghiu said...

Matt - you got it ;-)

Jose Galdamez said...

These are some pretty good guidelines to go by. I wasn't sure what you meant by NIH syndrome at first, but after reading about it on Wikipedia I can say I've never seen that problem with presentations. I have, however, experienced it in the workplace.

The only point I wish you would've covered was code walk throughs. Do you think it's better to do the demo and tell people to download the code later? Or is it better to stop every now and then to explain some of the more complicated parts?

Grig Gheorghiu said...

Hi Jose -- thanks for the comments.

Regarding NIH, I was referring to the product/tool/technology covered in the presentation -- I wanted to be convinced that the presenter didn't just 'roll their own' as so many do, especially in the Python community.

As far as code walkthroughs go, I think it's good to have some in-depth slides and get the pulse of the audience. If they are interested, show them, if not, they can see them after your talk.

Gerald M. Weinberg said...

Very well written. I would love it if you also to comment on how you feel about experiential sessions, like we do in our workshops and conferences, like PSL and AYE.

Grig Gheorghiu said...

Hi Jerry -- you just paid me the best compliment I ever received! ;-)

Unfortunately I never attended one of your experential's been on my TODO list for far too long. I'll try to attend one soon.