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Event HOWTO

Mark F. Komarinski

VA Linux Systems

�����������markk@linuxdoc.org
��������
Revision History                                                             
Revision v0.05            8 Nov 2000           Revised by: mfk               
First revision. Comments from readers is appreciated.                        


The purpose of this document is to show you how to create good presentations
for almost any sort of Linux event.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Table of Contents
1. Introduction
    1.1. Copyright Information
    1.2. Disclaimer
    1.3. New Versions
    1.4. Credits
    1.5. Feedback
   
   
2. Getting Started
3. Choosing a topic
4. Submitting your topic
5. Creating your Presentation
6. Giving your presentation

1. Introduction

While many Linux users will give presentations at Linux User Group (LUG)
meetings, Expos, and other conferences, not everyone is effective at giving
presentations. Much like public speaking, a presenter needs to know how to
communicate with their audience so that their topic is clear and understood
by all. Topics that may interest users can easily be lost with ineffective
presentations. Hopefully this document will spell out how you can do this
properly.
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1.1. Copyright Information

This document is copyrighted (c) 2000 Mark F. Komarinski and is distributed
under the terms of the Linux Documentation Project (LDP) license, stated
below.

Unless otherwise stated, Linux HOWTO documents are copyrighted by their
respective authors. Linux HOWTO documents may be reproduced and distributed
in whole or in part, in any medium physical or electronic, as long as this
copyright notice is retained on all copies. Commercial redistribution is
allowed and encouraged; however, the author would like to be notified of any
such distributions.

All translations, derivative works, or aggregate works incorporating any
Linux HOWTO documents must be covered under this copyright notice. That is,
you may not produce a derivative work from a HOWTO and impose additional
restrictions on its distribution. Exceptions to these rules may be granted
under certain conditions; please contact the Linux HOWTO coordinator at the
address given below.

In short, we wish to promote dissemination of this information through as
many channels as possible. However, we do wish to retain copyright on the
HOWTO documents, and would like to be notified of any plans to redistribute
the HOWTOs.

If you have any questions, please contact <linux-howto@metalab.unc.edu>
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1.2. Disclaimer

No liability for the contents of this documents can be accepted. Use the
concepts, examples and other content at your own risk. As this is a new
edition of this document, there may be errors and inaccuracies, that may of
course be damaging to your system. Proceed with caution, and although this is
highly unlikely, the author do not take any responsibility for that.

All copyrights are held by their by their respective owners, unless
specifically noted otherwise. Use of a term in this document should not be
regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.

Naming of particular products or brands should not be seen as endorsements.
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1.3. New Versions

This is the initial release.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

1.4. Credits

I'd like to thank Prof. Brad Broughton, Technical Communication Department,
Clarkson University. He taught a number of courses on effective presentations
and public speaking. I don't always follow his rules, but I know what they
are.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

1.5. Feedback

Feedback is most certainly welcome for this document. Without your
submissions and input, this document wouldn't exist. Please send your
additions, comments and criticisms to the following email address : <
markk@linuxdoc.org>.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Getting Started

Before you even give a presentation, there are a few things you have to do:

��*�Choose a topic.
   
��*�Submit your topic to a show to LUG. (and get it accepted!)
   
��*�Create presentation from the topic.
   
��*�Give the presentation.
   

Contrary to poular belief, each of these may be as hard as all the others.
Choosing a topic for some may be easy, based on their expertise, whereas a
Linux jack-of-all-trades may be stuck choosing a topic. Those comfortable
with public speaking may have trouble designing the slides, and so on.

So let's jump right in and hit all the topics and get you started!
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3. Choosing a topic

In many cases, you can choose your topic based on the area of expertise you
have. If you're a known (or unknown?) expert on RAID, you can give a
presentation on RAID. But what do you talk about on RAID? Do you talk about
the design of the controller drivers under Linux 2.4? Do you talk about
installing Linux on a RAID device? Case study?

Unfortunately, these are things you'll have to think about and decide on your
own. Your best bet is to think of a generic enough subject, and change it
based on your audience (we'll get into this later on). If you're talking to a
more advanced LUG/USENIX crowd, you can give a more advanced presentation,
whereas newbie groups can get a presentation of what RAID is and how it
works. The basic idea is to keep the intended audience in mind at all times.
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4. Submitting your topic

Once you have the basic idea of what you want to present, you have to get it
accepted by groups and get the opportunity to show it. Your best line of
strategy is to start off giving your intended presentation to a local LUG and
let them critique it. Audience feedback is cruicial, especially if you have
not done a presentation before.

So what's the secret for talking to a LUG? In many cases, just offer. LUGs
like to have speakers for each meeting to give a reason to get together other
than go for a beer after the meeting.

In terms of conferences that you would like to attend, check the major
conferences and expos out there. Many are listed at Linux web sites, some
send out a call for papers (CFP) to approprate discussion lists, like <
ldp-discuss@lists.linuxdoc.org>. Many will have either an e-mail CFP, or have
you fill out a web form.

The author cannot comment on what papers are accepted or declined, mostly
because I don't know how it works. The best I can say is to see what topics
have been selected in the past and tailor your abstract that way.

Assuming your presentation has been selected, try and get some information
about the location, dates, time, and so on. This will have a lot of bearing
on how your presentation is laid out. A presentaton using printed slides will
appear different on screen than one with an LCD projector that connects to
your laptop. In some cases, you will need to bring your own laptop to the
presentation.
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5. Creating your Presentation

There are a number of programs for creating presentations. What you use
should really be a personal preference. However, there are a few choices for
you to use.


Table 1. Presentation applications
+-----------+-------------------+-------------------------------------------+
|Application|URL                |Notes                                      |
|Name       |                   |                                           |
+-----------+-------------------+-------------------------------------------+
|MagicPoint |http://www.Mew.org/|Presentation-only. Reads text files for    |
|           |mgp/               |creating presentation. Exports to PS and   |
|           |                   |HTML                                       |
+-----------+-------------------+-------------------------------------------+
|StarOffice |http://            |Good conversion to and from Microsoft      |
|           |www.staroffice.com |PowerPoint. Not really good for laptops, as|
|           |                   |it consumes a lot of memory and CPU cycles.|
+-----------+-------------------+-------------------------------------------+
|Applixware |http://            |Commercial application, but smaller        |
|Office     |www.vistasource.com|requirements than Star Office.             |
+-----------+-------------------+-------------------------------------------+

So how do you create the your content? First, you'll want to have some
introductory information. Your first slide should contain the title of the
presentation, your name, and who you're representing (if anyone). Remember
that it's good form to include the name of the organization that is paying
for your trip, even if they're not who you're representing.

Your second slide should contain the agenda for the remainder of the
presentation. This serves two purposes - it not only tells the audience what
to expect, but serves as an outline for you as you create the slides.

Your third (or forth, depending on how big the agenda is) should contain some
information about you. This sets your credibility with the audience as to
your expertise with the subject matter.

After that, it is up to you to start creating your slides. However, here's a
few hints to keep in mind as you go along:

 1. Make the text of the slides big, and the amount of text small. You want
    everyone to be able to read what is on the slide.
   
 2. There is no real need to write in full sentences. You will want to make
    short points, since your talking will fill in the details.
   
 3. If you use backgrounds in your slides, make them of light colors. Dark
    colors will contrast the text when they are printed out as handouts for
    attendees.
   
 4. Stick to one topic per slide. You can have multiple slides per topic,
    just title them "Topic", "Topic (cont'd)", or number them.
   

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6. Giving your presentation

Before you give your presentation to a group of people, give it a test run to
a friend or SO. This lets you know how well the flow of the presentation is,
plus may give ideas for improvement.

If you have never taken a public speaking class, or given presentations to
large groups, the first few times you do this it may seem unnerving. As I
mentioned earlier, it may be easier to start with your local LUG and get used
to talking to groups of people - the local LUG will be filled with a friendly
audience and you will be more at ease.

When talking to a large audience, keep the following in mind:

 1. Don't just read the text on the slides. Anyone can put slides up and read
    the text on it. You are an expert!
   
 2. Keep eye contact with the audience. Every now and then, look up from your
    screen and scan the audience. If this makes you nervous, look across the
    tops of the heads. From the perspective of the audience, you're looking
    at them. Look up, and scan from one side of the room to the other, then
    look back at your screen.
   
 3. Feedback from microphones can cause headaches for all around. Test your
    microphone setup before talking.
   
 4. If you do not have a microphone, try and face your audience as much as
    possible. Your voice will carry better.
   
 5. Do not let yourself get sidetracked. Stay on the topic. If a member of
    the audience tries to get you off topic too far, offer to discuss it
    after the presentation. Others who are interested can take part then.
   





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