speaking online – presentation vs panel

I’ve been declining most speaking opportunities from home. I find it a lot harder and more tiring to speak when I can’t see anyone in the audience. It’s stressful enough being at home so much without adding more voluntary stress! I’m also worried about outside noise distracting either me or the audience. For example, sometimes a fire engine “doesn’t go by” (cars don’t/can’t let it go by so it stays at my corner for 20-30 seconds and I can’t hear anything).

I’ve done two “public” things successfully on video from home:

  • Intro trivia and moderating Q&A for the NY Java Sig. (This isn’t the main part of the meeting so I know someone can take over for me.)
  • A panel on architecture. The panel mitigated both my concerns. I could see the moderator and other panelists. So I could see reactions and wasn’t speaking to nobody.
  • When there was excessive noise at my end, I could mute until it went away. Other panelists were still talking so I wasn’t messing up the whole presentation.

CART, Speaking and Toastmasters

Yesterday, I went to see the presentations from World IA day. One of the attendees was deaf and they provided CART (communication access real time translation.) I’ve seen a real time interpreter before, but never actually typing the words on a screen real time. I found this interesting from a speaking point of view.

One of the speaker used a lot of filler words which got me looking into how the CART stenographer handled it. He typed “so” and “you know” with consistency. ¬†Once in a while, he’d type “um”. He left most of those out though. Which is fine. They don’t add any value to understanding.

Which of course, is why we are trained to avoid them in the first place. Filler words don’t add understanding to hearing listeners either.


“out of scope”

Wow. I haven’t blogged in almost a month! Not technical, but I’m going to share a gripe on “out of scope” today. I’ve had two instances where I went to a “session” expecting to learn one thing and then when asking a question, learning the “speaker” considers it is out of scope. You’ll notice I didn’t use the word meeting, presentation or presenter in there once.

At the NY SPIN, Ramvasan spoke about “Facilitating Meetings”. So far so good. However, he only considers meetings to be certain things. And a one hour training session isn’t one of them. Nor is a “mandatory” meeting. Nor is anything that isn’t a team meeting as near as I can tell.

Yesterday, I went to the Toastmasters conference and attended a “session” called “Presentation Zen.” It was about how you are the presentation and not the slides. So far so good. However, he doesn’t consider a “session” where you have to deliver a lot of facts to be a presentation. He did give some ideas on what to do. But when pushed fell back to the definition.

Both of these feel a bit like a cop out to me. Surely an expert/presenter on a topic has an opinion on how to handle things that aren’t exactly what they set out to speak about.

What’s worse is this closes the mind of the audience. If you are going to draw a box around your material and dismiss what is outside the box, I want to find this out in the first five minutes of the presentation. Not when someone has something that sounds like a perfectly legitimate question.