Put away that Laser Pointer

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A laser pointer seems like a useful tool for a speaker. You can use it to point out certain aspects or details in your slides, even if you're far away from the projected screen. It can, however, also be very annoying for your audience.

Book Review: Story Proof

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Story Proof: The Science behind the startling Power of Story by Kendall Haven

Whether you are preparing a presentation or trying to sharpen the marketing message of your product or business - when looking for advice, you will soon come across the recommendation to try storytelling. Stories, it seems, help your audience to better understand and remember whatever it is you are trying to tell them.

But do stories really work and if they do, why do they work? All the books and articles on the topic of storytelling that I've found so far only quote anecdotal evidence. Yes, it does seem to work, but there's this nagging feeling that the effect of stories is not quite confirmed yet, which leaves you asking for definitive proof.

That proof is finally here, in the form of the book Story Proof by Kendall Haven.

Have you considered making it shorter?

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Meetings tend to always have the same length - an hour, usually. But is there a reason for this, other than tradition and the default setting in organiser software? Why not schedule a meeting to only take 22 minutes? It's the same with presentations. Why do they have to take an hour? Why not 15 minutes including Q&A?

When you are asked to give a presentation, have you considered a format other than the usual hour? How long do you really need to cover your topic? Don't feel obliged to fill an hour when it would only take you 20 minutes to discuss your main point. Adding content that's not strictly relevant - just so that you can fill a timeslot - won't make your presentation any better or more memorable; quite the contrary actually.

Lightning Talk at FOSDEM 2013

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FOSDEM is Europe's biggest open source conference. It's organised entirely by the community and in addition to being about all things being free as in freedom, it's also free as in beer, i.e. there are no entrance fees (although donations are welcome). For over 10 years now, literally thousands of geeks from all over Europe assemble in Brussels on the first weekend in February every year

I'll be attending FOSDEM again this year (Feb 2+3). I will also be giving a short presentation: a 15 minute lightning talk in the Testing and Automation devroom. The title is "What's our Status?" and this is what I submitted as the talk's summary:

Stay away from the edge

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Here's a tip when designing your slides: Stay away from the edges. By which I mean that you shouldn't put anything important near the four edges (left, right, top or bottom) of the slide as it may be cut off when the slide is projected.