The problem with bullet points (and what to do about them)

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I've carried around this idea about a presentation demonstrating what's wrong with bullet points in my virtual back pocket for a while now. But where exactly would you give such a presentation? I thought about making it a lightning talk, which are now common at regular conferences. But even then you'd risk alienating many of the other speakers when you tell them - even light-heartedly - that their presentation style just plain sucks.

And then Barcamp Stuttgart 4 came along, and with its "anything goes" attitude, it was now or never. An unconference is a good place to pull off something like that. And even if I were to step on a few people's toes, it's less of a problem than at a conference with lots of full-time speakers ...

So here's the content of that presentation (which I deliberately did not put up on Slideshare, since the slides need some explanation):

Any Questions?

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At the end of a presentation, there's usually the question: Any questions? And more often than not, it's followed by - awkward silence.

Now, that doesn't mean that the audience doesn't have any questions. For some reason, people just seem to need a moment to muster up the courage to actually ask a question. So if you're a speaker and you encounter said silence - what can you do? Here's a little trick I learned at a recent conference:

Dear fellow speakers ...

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Lists of tips for presenters seem to be popular these days, so I tried to come up with my own, both from a speaker's point of view as well as from that of a visitor, i.e. what do I expect from a speaker? While preparing this (short) list, I realized that it all boils down to one simple rule: Respect your audience.

Mini Book Review: Brain Rules

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Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina

This book should be required (not only recommended) reading for anyone involved in teaching, learning, or presenting. In other words - all of us.