Our presentation “Pattern recognition for technical communicators” by Chris Atherton and myself at TCUK11 was well-received and brought “Ah-ha moments a-go-go” according to one tweet. Read how it went or download the slides in PDF by clicking on the title image.
How the session came about
The session (see the abstract) got its start when I met Chris at last year’s TCUK where she spoke about “Everything you always wanted to know about psychology (and how it relates to technical communication) … but were afraid to ask”. She didn’t really talk about pattern recognition, and I didn’t really know what it was, but I had a notion this might be good for another presentation. I contacted Chris, she thought it was a great idea, and so over the year, we came up with this baby.
And we brought the baby to TCUK11. 24 hours before our talk, Chris and I attended Karen Mardahl‘s and CJ Walker‘s fireside chat-like session “Content strategy year 1: a tale from the trenches“. Their dialogue format really appealed to us, we decided to replace some of the scripted moments with more informal dialogue – and the baby had two godmothers.
Then we attended Andrew Lightheart‘s “How to be a riveting speaker” (more on that in my previous post) after which we couldn’t very well present something with reams of text-ridden slides. So we threw out most of the text slides – and the baby had a godfather.
By now, it was still the same content, but quite a different presentation. After all the tweaking, we didn’t have a measurement whether it filled the allotted 40 minutes or was longer…
How it went, a view from the lectern
Chris and I met in the auditorium, set up, added some last minute changes. Checking the watch: 2 minutes to go. Looking up: We had filled the place, a good 100 people were keen to recognise a pattern or two…
Karen introduced us, and off we went. I had decided to be extranervous because the session was being filmed and preserved (is my collar right?) – but I completely forgot!
Through all the changes and tweaks, we had come to know the material so intimately that it seemed to flow quite smoothly. The omitted text slides were actually a relief, because we could focus on the story and the examples, without having to vindicate each and every sentence. We had picked out stories and examples which were easier to tell than some of the concepts we had thrown out.
Karen’s warning of 15 minutes left came around the time I had roughly estimated. We had to leave out the communal brainstorm of more examples and applications, but everything else fit in.
The feedback after the session was very kind and encouraging. I’m glad and proud if we presented something meaningful to our peers.
The slides are not the actual presentation we showed, but a variation with more text, so they work a little better as a self-contained slide show without the soundtrack. Click on the image above to display or download. The video by the TCUK crew is forthcoming.
Chris and I sincerely thank the TCUK organisers for inviting us, our peer presenters for valuable inspiration, all attendees for helpful feedback, intentional or not, before and after the session!
Feel free to leave a comment, whether you were there or are merely curious what it’s all about!