Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PyCon Speaking

Do read Moshe's How to give an OK talk, esp the Narrative part. It feels quite silly to repeat yourself on every slide but you are preforming live and not writing on paper - so tell the audience why slide N+1 is important and for the same reason as slide N at every opportunity. During my talk I felt as though I was being overly repetitive, but on watching it after the fact I feel like I didn't hammer home the point enough (you should do more shit like this!).

Speaking of speaking: I asked a few popular conference warriors (Martelli & Hettinger) how many talks they had given and when they first felt comfy giving talks. They didn't know. I should have asked Beazely and C.T. Brown but they're professors and get more practice in a year than most people get in a lifetime.

But seriously, those popular conference regulars didn't know. Hettinger estimated he had spoken 30 times. His wife then pointed out he did 15 talks last year and so he upped his estimate to "more than 15 twice." Martelli estimated 50-100 talks but was equally uncertain. Myself, I've only done 7-8 and still get nervous if the room is less than 30 or more than 300 people. Hettinger said something like "I still get nervy when it the audience is 10x what I'm used to." I couldn't coax an admission out of Alex (I had only vague thoughts on the topic when I asked, and no narrative).

Take it all as paraphrased hearsay, but anytime I have to step up to a podium I just say to myself "suck it up, princess." It mostly works.


Kevin H said...

I hear "Suck it up, Princess" is generally useful advice. :)

Dave said...

I had a terrible fear of public speaking throughout college and didn't start to conquer it until grad school when I was simply thrown in front of a class of 30 undergraduates and told to teach them algebra my first semester. I can't say it was a pleasant experience, but doing a lot of teaching is definitely one way to pick up a lot of speaking experience.

I'd just like to say that I'm like Hettinger though--I always get nervous before Pycon presentations. The audience is so much larger than what I'm used to and there are rigid time constraints. I can't even begin to describe how nervous I was before my GIL talk in 2010.

If I had to give anyone advice though, I'd just tell them to just go up there and have fun with it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, Jack!

Re: fear of public speaking: I had fairly little to begin with, but what little remained was gone after performing in Rocky Horror Picture Show -- after being in fishnets in front of a theater, few things can embarrass me. :)

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