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Looking back at my year 2014, there's so much that I'm grateful for that I decided to write about it (since we don't talk about these things nearly as often as we should).

Getting more out of your slides on SlideShare

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I come from an Open Source background. We share things. We make them available for others to use, adapt, improve upon, or turn them into something else entirely. Therefore, I usually share the slides for my talks. For this, I use SlideShare.

While SlideShare is already useful just for looking at slides, you will actually have to register to get the most out of it. Not only will you be able to upload your own and download other people's slides (if the author allows it) but you can also follow speakers and be notified when they publish new presentations. In other words, it's yet another social network. In fact, since SlideShare is owned by LinkedIn, it is part of a social network that you may already use.

Getting Feedback for your Event

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At an event that I attended recently, the conference pack included the usual feedback form. It was a bit smaller and printed on stronger paper, so it was more of a card than a sheet of paper. At the closing session of the event, one of the organisers reminded the attendees to leave feedback and put the feedback cards into the provided box. Said box stood on a nearby table. It was half-transparent and the sun happened to be shining on it at that moment, so you could clearly see that it only contained one feedback card at that point (which happened to be mine - I had just filled it out before the closing session). The woman was clearly shocked and had to ask her team if someone had emptied the box before (answer: no).

While having only one feedback form at the end of a full-day conference is indeed a bit on the low end, an overall low return rate at that point shouldn't really come as a surprise; it's a simple matter of logistics.

On Learning - and becoming a Teacher

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So this week's topic was learning. On a personal level, I took an evening course to refresh what's left of my French (not much, as I quickly found out). And then I attended a local congress on the topic of lifelong learning; which sort of provided the view from the other side. On top of that, my weekly repost of an old article on Twitter happened to be about learning something from your own presentation, which was a nice coincidence.

As presenters, we should of course be willing to learn all the time. We learn about our topic. We learn how to give better presentations. We learn how to interact with people.

Consider who's your audience when submitting a talk

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Imagine that you're going to organise a conference. Obviously, you would need speakers. There are two ways to get speakers for your event: You can invite them or you can put out what is commonly called a Call for Papers (CfP for short).

The two approaches are not mutually exclusive, btw. Keynote speakers are often invited, for example, whereas the rest of the speakers might be selected via a CfP.

Anyway, let's assume you're going to do a CfP. You're probably going to set up a web form for potential speakers to fill out. You want to know their name, biography, the title of their talk, and a short summary of what they're going to talk about (commonly referred to as the abstract). Hopefully, you'll also provide a text field where they can explain to you, i.e. the conference organiser, why they think they would be a good match for your conference.