voxgig logo

Welcome to the voxgig newsletter for tech speakers, 6 Apr 2018

This week I’m going to focus on the age old question: how can I make my slides more effective and interesting? If you choose to use slides, there are some common pitfalls to avoid and techniques to be embraced. Below is a collection of expert tips from designers, speakers and authors.

1. Think about your slides last

Building your slides should be the tail end of developing your presentation. Think about your main message, structure its supporting points, practice it and time it—and then start thinking about your slides. The presentation needs to stand on its own; the slides are just something you layer over it to enhance the listener experience. Too often, I see slide decks that feel more like presenter notes, but I think it’s far more effective when the slides are for the audience to give them a visual experience that adds to the words.

Source | Aaron Weyenberg, UX Designer, TED

2. Keep it simple

PowerPoint uses slides with a horizontal or ‘landscape’ orientation. The software was designed as a convenient way to display graphical information that would support the speaker and supplement the presentation. The slides themselves were never meant to be the “star of the show” (the star, of course, is your audience). People came to hear you and be moved or informed (or both) by you and your message. Don’t let your message and your ability to tell a story get derailed by slides that are unnecessarily complicated, busy, or full of what Edward Tufte calls “chart junk.” Nothing in your slide should be superfluous, ever. Your slides should have plenty of “white space” or “negative space.” Do not feel compelled to fill empty areas on your slide with your logo or other unnecessary graphics or text boxes that do not contribute to better understanding. The less clutter you have on your slide, the more powerful your visual message will become.

Source | Garr Reynolds, Best-Selling Author, Speaker

3. Avoid blocks of text

Slides with multiple paragraphs of text have shown to significantly decrease the attention of the audience, and thus the effectiveness of getting your message across.

Since we can’t read and listen at the same time, this basically tells the audience to read directly off the slides and stop listening to you.

Source | Damon Nofar, Presentation Designer

4. Rethink visuals

When you reduce the amount of text in your slides, you’ll need compelling visuals to support the message you’re delivering to your audience. But that doesn’t mean you can just throw some nice-looking photos onto your deck and move on. Like any other content strategy, the visual elements of your presentation need to be strategic and relevant.

Source | Amanda Zantal-Wiener, Writer and Speaker

5. Tell a story

Storytelling has always been an effective way to convey information and make it more memorable. So, don’t just give information, facts, and figures on your slides. Build a story into your presentation, whether a single scenario that you carry through your presentation or separate stories (or examples) throughout your presentation to emphasize and give context to specific points. Not only will it be more memorable if you can tailor your story to the audience, it will connect more readily.

Source | Michel Theriault, Author and Speaker

Speaker Training

Do you speak at conferences? Want to learn how to give the very best talks? Or are you just starting out and want to overcome the fear of speaking on stage?

We are running speaker training workshops in Dublin and London, in Ireland and the U.K. over the coming months.

There is a 10% OFF early bird discount if you book before May 22nd.

To find out more follow the links below.

Public speaking with Lauren Currie

London, UK – Friday June 22, 2018 | More Details

Giving great talks with Russ Miles

Dublin, Ireland – Tuesday July 17, 2018 | More Details

Public speaking with Debbie Forster

London, UK – Thursday October 18, 2018 | More Details

Giving great talks with Russ Miles

Dublin, Ireland – Tuesday September 25, 2018 | More Details




Speaker Profile

Tom Shaw speaking at conference

Activision’s Skypilot [V]
Tom Shaw

Demonware Build Engineer Thomas Shaw keeps pretty busy in the conference and event sector. Not only does he speak at conferences on topics such as Docker, containerized pipelines and continuous delivery, he is the founder of the Dublin Jenkins Meetup, is one of the Dublin Docker meetup organizers, and is responsible for creating and organising a number of Docker Bootcamps. As if that didn’t keep him busy enough, he founded the ShipItCon conference in 2017, so he takes a step to the other side of conferences as an organiser as well. It’s no wonder Thomas was named as one of the unsung heroes of Dublin’s tech scene in 2016.

Having that unique perspective of being a technical speaker, as well as an event organiser helps him to keep audiences engaged. In this particular talk, he does an excellent job of walking the audience through his topic; outlining the project, identifying the problem, discussing further challenges, providing the solution, and finally revealing the outcome. His use of quotes throughout his slide deck provides great side focus points, but it is his use of simplicity, both in text and graphics, throughout the deck that make it easy to follow. To learn more about Thomas Shaw and see what he’s up to next, take a look at his web page.

Learn from the Best

Simon Soinek giving a Ted talk

How Great Leaders Inspire Action [V]
Simon Sinek
You don’t have to use slides, you know. In this classic Ted talk, Simon Sinek uses a flip-chart to effectively deliver his message.

“All the great and inspiring leaders and organizations in the world, whether it’s Apple, Martin Luther King, or the Wright Brothers, they all think act and communicate the exact same way and it’s the complete opposite to everyone else.”

Tell me…

 What is your biggest challenge as a tech speaker?

This newsletter is for you. I want it to include hints, tips and strategies that resonate with you.

So go ahead, hit reply and tell me what you find challenging as a speaker. 

Email me at richard@voxgig.com. You can tweet too: @voxgig I will address the most pressing issues in each edition.

Book of the Week

The Art of the Pitch

The Art of the Pitch
Peter Coughter
If you want real world samples to put presentation ideas into practice, then this is your book. Using your own successes and failures is a great way to communicate with other presenters who will come across each of the same issues.

Blog Post

Presenting Effectively
Kieran Healy

There is more than one way to give a good talk, and there is more than one way to make “good slides” or—better—make good use of slides and other material you might want to show people.




Three Conferences


DevOpsDays logo

Devopsdays Denver Rockies, USA

Another installment in the devopsdays worldwide community conference series, the Denver Rockies event carries on the discussion for anyone interested in IT improvement. The conference takes place in the heart of Denver’s vibrant River North (RiNo) Art District, home to many remarkable creative businesses and individuals, so it’s the perfect spot for creative energy.


Universal JS Day logo

Universal JS Day, Ferrara, Italy

“Have you ever wondered how you can quickly spread your app on different mobile platforms like iOS, Android or desktop?” Join Universal JS Day to get the answer to this question and and many more through JavaScript talks and workshops. With the gorgeous town of Ferrara, Italy as the backdrop, there will be plenty to keep you busy after the conference too!


Clojure Days Logo

Clojure, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Another conference in Amsterdam, you say? And it’s in the Spring? Dutch Clojure Days invites you to join this free annual international gathering of Clojure enthusiasts at TQ, a curated tech hub right in the heart of the city. Tulip season will be in full bloom, so if you haven’t had the pleasure, it’s definitely a sight to see!




CFP Calendar

These are the CFP deadline dates and submission pages.

A favour…

Can I ask you for a favour? If you enjoy this newsletter, and if you find it useful, please consider recommending it to a friend who is learning to give technical talks, or who aspires to do so. I meet so many cool programmers who have brilliant things to share with the world—that’s you!

Please help me to improve this newsletter – I’d love to hear your suggestions! You can email me directly at richard@voxgig.com. You can tweet too: @voxgig. Thank you so much for reading!

A special thanks and shout out to TammyCora, and David for helping to make this newsletter even better!