Have a point (and get there fast)

09. September 2012 Uncategorized 0

There really wasn’t supposed to be a follow up to “The ONE thing I try to put in all my speeches.” It was supposed to be a one-off. But then I went to a conference and was reminded of several things to put in a speech. I’m contemplating making a series of blog posts, but for right now, it will just be two.

In addition to asking myself “If I were in the audience is this the information I would want to hear”, a second rule for me when doing public speaking is to “have a point and get there fast.”

A little ramp up is fine, really it is. If you have an hour to talk and you want to take 5 minutes to set thet mood, or lay the  ground work that’s fine. But not more than 5 (maybe 10 minutes) max. I went to a session called “Clean Code – Writing Code For Humans” that nailed this. In the first 5 minutes he laid out some resources to read, and also said “Clean code is important because it’s easy to write code and hard to read.” He then went on to make the point that most of us will write a piece of code 1 time, and read it several times.  He spent the next 40 minutes showing examples of what clean code is, how to write it, and provided counter examples (and even a little bit of counseling for those of us who realize we don’t do a good enough job.)

In contrast to that, I went to multiple sessions (names witheld to protect the guilty) that spent 35-40 minutes setting up their talk. They’d talk about the history of the problem they were trying to solve. They’d tell 4 or 5 annectdotes from their lives as they dealt with the history of the situation. That left them with only about 5-10 minutes to really address what they were there to talk about. They got some laughs, they built up their credibility (Is that you with a TRS-80 in the background? You must know your stuff) but they didn’t convey much useful information.

Once again, public speaking is not a place to hear yourself think. If you have all the knowledge in the world on a topic and you never get to your point, your knowledge is worthless. Have a point, and get there quickly.