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tomhukins (4457)

tomhukins
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Perl, Web, Database developer, and Milton Keynes Perl Monger [pm.org].

Journal of tomhukins (4457)

Monday September 27, 2004
04:13 PM

Asking for Feedback

[ #21080 ]

Just over a couple of weeks ago, I gave a talk about Running a Web business with Perl to London.pm as 2shortplanks has already mentioned in preparation for YAPC::Europe.

The talk went alright, and as a consequence I feel I delivered it much better in Belfast the week after.

I started out by introducing my talk and explaining that I was practicing for YAPC. I asked the attendees to let me know what they thought afterwards, as any feedback would help me do a better job the week after. I deliberately mentioned that I wanted both positive and negative feedback, as any opinions would help me improve.

Wow! I got some wonderful feedback from several people, who provided lots of encouragement and insight, pointed out my weaknesses and suggested improvements I could make.

I managed to incorporate some, but not enough, of these improvements before Belfast. Still, I have plenty of useful ideas to bear in mind for the future.

So, I wonder what to do: Should I always ask for feedback or will this make me seem unprepared? Perhaps it depends on the occasion. Regardless, I have plenty of things to think about for the next few talks I give.

How should I respond to others' talks? I don't want to seem rude by offering unwanted criticism, but I don't want to hold back opinions that might prove useful. Maybe it's all about diplomacy and tact, skills that all programmers have in abundance. Oh, wait a minute..

Finally, I don't want to suggest that I didn't get any feedback in Belfast. I got some very satisfying responses but, as I hadn't asked for it, less insightful criticism and suggestions for improvement. Anyone?

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  • Every time I teach a class, I ask for feedback. I never stop learning about being a better presenter. There's always the next thing to know.

    Of course, it has to be phrased like that. It can't be phrased as "I think I'm substandard, any feedback is welcome", or they'd start thinking that. {grin}

    --
    • Randal L. Schwartz
    • Stonehenge
  • I'm interested in your talk. Do you have slides or a paper available?
    • That brings me to another point: I try to use slides as supporting material for my talk as opposed to something I read out to the audience.

      My slides won't make much sense to anyone who didn't hear the talk they accompany, so I tend not to distribute them. On the other hand, this means people who didn't attend the talk can't find out about it.

      The ideal way for me to deal with this would be to write up my talks, which I must force myself to do before I forget what I talked about.

      I'll update the Wiki with
      • That brings me to another point: I try to use slides as supporting material for my talk as opposed to something I read out to the audience.

        Good for you! I'm already liking it.

        Your slides should have two things in them: the outline of your talk, and props you need that you wouldn't be able to describe adequately in prose. It should not be the text of your talk.

        In fact, if I catch any of my instructors (or myself {grin}) reading a bullet word-for-word, it's time for a little rethinking.

        --
        • Randal L. Schwartz
        • Stonehenge