Speaking: Your Slides != Your Talk

Slides are the supporting structure for your talk, not the main event. Speak the meaty and informative portion of the presentation out loud and use slides as a backdrop to set either the emotional tone or reinforce the message that you are trying to convey.

Obama and Social People

For example, I love using this image of Obama in Berlin as a backdrop when I talk about the growth of social data over the last several years. In this image every single person has a device and is generating their own data about their shared social experience. The content of the image supports what is otherwise a fairly abstract statement, and you can feel the excitement of the crowd, boosting the excitement that I want to share about the possibilities of social data.

This is a particular style of slide design will fail for situations where “the Powerpoint” will be shared independently of the talk, and it’s not appropriate for all content, but it is a ton of fun when you can get away with it and uses people’s expectations about what they are going to see (a speaker and some slides) to create a more compelling experience.

This article is part of my series of speaking hacks for introverts and nerds. Read about the motivation here.

Speaking: Title Slides + Twitter = You Win

Your title slide should focus on the title of the talk. It should also include your name and affiliation, your logo if you have a cute one, possibly your blog or e-mail address if you want people to get in touch, and your twitter handle.

Here’s one of mine:


I usually mention that the beginning of the talk that if people have questions they can tweet them at me. This isn’t just because Twitter is a great way to get questions from people too shy to speak up (or who don’t get an opportunity). Here’s the hack: letting people know that you’ll be reading everything they say about your talk on Twitter makes them more likely to say nice things.

Further, in a multi-track conference, people who weren’t actually in your talk (or were there but not paying a lot of attention) will judge your talk based on what people on Twitter say about it. Get a few good tweets, and you’ve created the wide perception that you’ve given a good talk.

Of course, it helps to actually give a good talk. More on that soon.

This article is part of my series of speaking hacks for introverts and nerds. Read about the motivation here.