The State of Geeky Presentations - Observations from FrOSCon8

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I'm a geek. I enjoy doing geeky things and I also enjoy watching fellow geeks doing or talking about geeky things. So a meet-up of Open Source geeks, such as FrOSCon, is an event I'm very much looking forward to all year.

At the eighth incarnation of this conference, I gave my Presenting for Geeks workshop again, in a slightly updated version. I'm happy to report that the room was packed and that I ran out of handouts (sorry for those who didn't get one - you can download it here). Thanks to all those who participated and also for your hard questions and helpful remarks. I'll make sure to roll that into future versions of the workshop. If you attended, please take a minute or two and leave some feedback via the link on the workshop's announcement page. Thank you!

So the interest in improving presentation skills is there, which is great. There are so many interesting projects and developments happening in the Open Source scene that the world should know about. Presentations at conferences like FrOSCon will help to get the word out. But you do need to put some effort into your presentation, so that it doesn't just dump the facts on your audience.

I think it's safe to say that the geeks have figured that out by now and are actively working on getting better at communicating. That awareness isn't evenly distributed yet, though. I attended another conference last year where, at least in my fuzzy memory, about 90% of the presentations seemed to consist of black-on-white slides chock-full with bullet points. FrOSCon had more variation, mainly because it's also more varied, topic-wise. The communities that are closer to business, e.g. where a lot of freelancers and self-employed people are active, seem to have a lead here. They have figured out the need and the means for better communication and are now bringing that experience back into their respective communities. Some other communities aren't quite there yet but are starting to notice.

As usual, the geeks will experiment a lot, make mistakes here and there, but will figure it out eventually. I'm hoping to be able to do my little part in this effort, and maybe speed things up here and there.

As an example of a good presentation that I saw on this weekend, let me point you to Bodo Tasche's talk about Geeks and Nerds. It's in German, though. If you don't speak the language, you can at least take a look at the slides. Great talk, both entertaining and insightful, complete with practical advice for how to make the most of attending a geeky conference. I'm sure we'll see more talks like this in the near future.

(Photo of yours truly in action by Maximilian Berghoff, via Twitter.)

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