Importance of Giving Tech Talk
In a technical workplace, it is important to be able to give a decent status update on your work at a moment’s notice to your supervisors or any guests at varying levels of technical detail. There’s no point doing good work if others don’t know about it or can’t understand what you did.
When giving that status update you may be asked to described the goal, or the steps you took to achieve the objective(s). You may even be asked to summarize rationale for adhering or disagreeing with said steps and/or objectives.
Related to presentation skills, is the ability to proactively conduct an inquiry into any topic, even if it may be a new topic to you. To get some experience with both of these skills, students will have a chance to practice giving a technical talk on a topic of your choosing in this class.
Preparing a talk
When picking a presentation topic it is typical to produce a short abstract 100-200 words minimum explaining your motivations, and objectives with this topic and what you hope to convey during the talk. It is often paired with a brief outline of main points in your proposed presentation structure.
- What is the main thing you want you audience to take away from the talk?
- What steps would you propose your audience to take in order to take away the takeaway?
Example of technical talks
- Communicating with Types by Kris Jenkins
- "A Philosophy of Software Design" by John Ousterhout
- PureScript by Bodil Stokke
There are also lots of examples of topics that fall outside of Computer Science yet are explained with technical detail. I.e. showing techniques.
And there are talks that go into changing perspectives.
Tips to keep in mind when preparing for presentations, taken from the list compiled by Michael Ernst (2005):
Know your audience - take time to research who you are talking with; are they engineers or managers, technical or non-technical, internal or external stakeholders? Find out what information they are after and what engages them.
Talk Takeaways - consider the main points or actions you’d like your audience to take away from your presentation. Is it information you’d like them to consider for future work or is it a specific action?
Keep it simple - be ready to explain any jargon. It’s important your audience understand what you’re saying
Know the set up - get an idea of your audio-visual technical options and needs before the presentation so you can prepare adequately
Leave time for questions - you never know. In fact, sometimes it helps to prepare a couple of questions to ask the audience at the end!