Ravi Mohan's Blog

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Slide, Slide on the wall... The Agile India Conference Experience Report Part 1

I attended (and spoke at) the Agile India Conference. My speech about applying XP to a large AI classifier system I am working on was well received . I used slides only to represent visualisation of complex data (and one for a dilbert cartoon).

I think most people use slides because
  1. they need to structure their thoughts as they create their speech,
  2. they can "lean on" the slides,use them as a psychological crutch while on stage,to take away some of the stress associated with speaking
  3. that is the only way they know how to make a presentation. That is how they learned to do it

Though i was a fairly good speaker and debater in college ,soon after i got into the software "industry" (note the quotes) i fell into the habit of creating and using slides for presentations. Recently i read this , this and this .

I also noticed that the very best speakers , even in the software field, (example Martin Fowler ) do not use slides .

ok so here was a chance to face an audience without any shields again after many years . The surprising thing was how powerful the hold of PowerPoint was. Though,years ago, i had spoken to large audiences before, without slides,or even notes, now it felt very strange to do so without PowerPoint guarding my back !! this was scary !

anyway , an intial awkwardness aside, the speech went off fine . The best compliment was given by a student volunteer (the conference was held at the PESIT Engineering College) who declared that he was able to follow the talk easily, though it was about a highly technical topic.

Vivek Singh , whom i respect tremendously, even while disagreeing with him about most things , was there and he didn't throw his shoes at me . .

So i guess it all turned out fine .Thanks to the talk, I met a lot of interesting people , including a person who writes browsers for mobile phones .We had a very interesting conversation.

And i will never use PowerPoint again . What i need is something that would allow me to outline the structure of a speech as i am speaking, annotate it with audience questions(as recorded audio ? ), connecting links etc .A cross between an outliner,a multi media blogging tool and a brain map .. hmmm time to fire up squeak.

More about the conference in the next entry .

No comments: