PDC Prep: Talk on how to give a talk

As we are in full-swing in talk preparation for the PDC, I thought I’d reference a great talk on, well, how to give a talk..   Simon Peyton Jones is a senior researcher at Microsoft Research and he gave this talk a few years ago, but it is equally valuable today as it was a few years ago when he presented it and spookily applicable to the PDC as it is to the research community.  


For those of you going to the PDC, I encourage you to fill out the surveys after each talk and let us know what you really think – that is the only way we will get better.. In fact feel free to reference this talk in your comments if you think the speaker should watch it before the next PDC 😉 

For the PDC speakers that happen to read my blog – watch this talk, I guarantee it will raise your speaker scores!  


One of the best speakers I know of told me he watches *this talk* every time before he gives a talk.. that should be testimony enough.. but if not, here are a few of my notes from watching it…


-          Want to make the foam to find out more about your topic…

-          Your mission is to WAKE them up!!

-          First two minutes are the key…  you gotta give them a reason to not disconnect?

-          Broad but shallow is boring!  

-          Examples are more important than the general case…

-          If you seem to be enthusiastic about your idea, your audience opens up to  it… “at least it is important to somebody”

-          Write your slides the night before… or at least do something to make it fresh in your mind..

-          Parkinson’s law – Super valuable law!

-          Don’t apologize!

-          Memorize the first 3 sentences by heart to get you off an running..

-          Remember to go to the bathroom 😉

-          You must finish on time….


Folks that are veterans of PDC past – what is your pet peeve about PDC talks?  What do you want to see speakers do differently?  What did you LOVE seeing in the past?

Comments (2)

  1. Keith Hill says:

    Dynamic speakers are great. They can take a potentially boring subject and make you interested in it. How? They usually do a very good job at telling you "why" you should be interested. After that it is just maintaining a dynamic and engaging speaking style. I think Don Box is a master at this. 🙂

    Monotone speakers put me to sleep. If the speaker doesn’t show much energy about their subject, I start to wonder if I should care about it.

  2. Dan Woodard says:

    Speaking of Don Box… He gives a good little talk on "What goes into a great technical presentation"

    It can be found over on Channel9


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