Presenting online

I've done a number of online presentations in the last couple of weeks and have gotten nice feedback from people. Presenting online is just like presenting in person, if you prepare your material, and you're passionate about the topic you're presenting, things should go well. Here are some notes on how I prepared for my two OpenWeek sessions this week.

  1. Pre-type what you have to say. I personally use TomBoy for my notes. Someone else recommended this to me before my first OpenWeek presentation. I can't remember who it was now...James? Jorge? Jono? Whoever it was, thanks! I think a big part of why my presentations go as smoothly as they do is because my content is pre-typed and my activities have been tested.
  2. Include URLs and additional resources as part of your talk. You can only cover so much material in an hour, providing those extra resources means you can sneak in a lot more stuff! For my talks this time around I had links to Wiki pages, online articles, slide shows/presentations and screen casts!
  3. Paste your talk into pastebin so that people can scroll ahead if they want to (Bazaar for docs and DocBook presentation). Ultimately the transcript is the true record of the experience, so it's fine that these pastebin content summaries aren't permanent.
  4. Contact relevant mailing lists a few days before to tell them you are giving a presentation. Tweet/dent right before you start to remind people that you're about to give a presentation.
  5. Respond to your audience. In my Bazaar talk I took out entire chunks of what I'd been planning because they weren't appropriate for the audience I had (they were "advanced" techniques which did little more than show off my experience with the topic). When things are pre-typed you can make those decisions on-the-fly.
  6. Ask for support. In the previous OpenWeek session I gave a general Bazaar talk. I had three or four people from #bzr to answer questions for me in the -chat room. It was great.
  7. Get a nice monitor and have multiple windows open so that you're not trying to flip between windows while you talk. Here you can see the two IRC windows (classroom and chat) on the left hand side, and the notes that I'm pasting from on the right hand side.
    How I Teach
  8. Watch the clock. Be aware of the time and try to leave a few minutes at the end for questions. If you think you're going to go over time, start hacking content out of your talk.
  9. Encourage questions: talk in both the "classroom" and the "chat" window. Participate in the experience and encourage others to do so as well. The more you're able prepare ahead of time, the easier this will be. Thinking about what the questions might be and have answers pre-typed for those as well.

Thanks to everyone who participates in OpenWeek--both as a presenter and as a participant! You're helping to make the Ubuntu community stronger and more knowledgeable!

DocBook: a blast from the past

I'm about to give a talk on DocBook for Ubuntu's OpenWeek. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel I reached back into the depths of time and pulled out some talks I'd given in France in 2004.

I was delighted to see that much of my talk from five years ago was still useful today. I've uploaded the XML slides and output for your enjoyment (see attached). These files were all originally online but got "lost" in a server shufle a few years ago. The zip archive contains the "source" XML files in a variant of DocBook as well as the HTML output. There is no distribution license on the files and they are (c) me. This is how they were originally released in 2004.

Front End Drupal book launch invitation

The following party invitation has been released to the local media. If you happen to be in the area on May 1 and are interested in attending the book launch for Front End Drupal, I would be delighted to see you! Sadly, Konstantin will not be attending. For those of you who have attended one of my events in the past and are wondering if there will be bag pipes...yes, Charles will be piping for us.

Owen Sounder Emma Jane Hogbin has written a book, Front End Drupal: Designing, Theming, Scripting, which will be launched at The Ginger Press at 7:00 pm Friday May 1. Described by publisher Prentice-Hall as “a practical, complete guide to customizing Drupal sites,” this is a book for web developers who are interested in learning new skills.

Drupal is an open-source content management system created by Dries Buytaert of Belgium who believes the program should be free and available to all computer users. Front End Drupal takes designers and web developers beyond the basics and teaches how to create customized web sites. As Buytaert writes in the book’s Foreword, “I’ll be the first to admit I learned a lot from this book.”

Since attending West Hill Secondary School in Owen Sound, Hogbin has been working as a Web developer. She has also taught computer studies at Humber and Seneca Colleges. For the past two years she has organized HICKTech, a local conference covering all aspects of computer use with many international speakers including those from Flickr, Guardian.co.uk and Yahoo! Canada. In the past year, Hogbin has been a presenter at computer conferences in Belgium, Hungary, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washginton DC, England, Portland, San Jose, Toronto, Meaford, Durham and Owen Sound. [Emma's note: these last three towns were added for local humour.]

“Although technology for the sake of collecting gadgets is stupid,” says Emma Jane Hogbin, “it has revolutionized the way we interact with others and increased our capacity to community beyond the limitations of physical distance and time.”

Everyone is welcome to attend the launch. Autographed copies of Front End Drupal: Designing, Theming, Scripting ($47.95) can be reserved at 519 376-4233 or toll-free within Canada at 1-800-463-9937 (please be patient, there is no voicemail on this line).

Maryann Thomas
The Ginger Press
848 Second Avenue East
Owen Sound ON N4K 2H3
519 376-4233
Git for Teams

Git For Teams

Best selling title from O'Reilly media. Covers essential skills needed to use Git in a team environment.

Available from O'Reilly media, and better bookstores worldwide.

Collaborating with Git

Collaborating with Git

Practical how-to videos to get you, and your team, up and running with Git. A complementary video series for the book, Git for Teams.

Available from O'Reilly media.

Drupal User's Guide

Drupal User's Guide

Site building for Drupal 7. Includes in-depth information on Drupal's most popular site building modules, SEO and accessibility. Two complete case studies are included in the book along with the tools you'll need to build (almost) any Web site with Drupal.

Available from Amazon.com.

Front End Drupal

Front End Drupal

The industry go-to for learning theming in Drupal 6. A great companion to Lullabot's book, Using Drupal.

Available from Amazon.com.