Some friends of mine were recently speaking on a cyber security panel at a non-computer-geek conference. While they got a higher than expected number of attendees, it was still lower than they would have liked. While watching some of the other panelists crash, burn, and then bury themselves at the center of the earth, they came up with a list of pointers for making cyber security talks more palatable based on specific failures they saw (whether humorous or serious). They were off-the-cuff, but I thought they make up a good list. This is part 1. Comments? Thoughts? Additions? :)

  1. Talking over your audience’s head is mean.  No one cares how smart you are unless you can make them just as smart on your topic in 20 minutes or less.
  2. Speaking of 20 minutes. Stay on the time clock. Wasting 15 minutes of someone else’s time is presumptuous and rude.
  3. Having a Slide Extravaganza doesn’t make you a good presenter.  Slides are talking points, nothing more. By the 98th slide, your audience will hate you.
  4. Engage. If people opt to read their horoscope on their l33t Droids rather than watching you in person, your presentation sucks.
  5. Tone. If you have a terrible voice, amplifying it on a  microphone is just plain mean. Record yourself ahead of time and listen to it. Adjust accordingly.
  6. Hair Matters.
  7. Thanking everyone for thanking the thank you people gets redundant. Appreciation is one thing – but it’s not the academy awards.    
  8. Pick one point. Maybe two. Not 438. Your audience is not Neo. They will not be able to learn Kung Fu
  9. Relevance. Know the audience and have a backup plan if no one can relate to what you’re talking about. Otherwise, you’re just filling space.
  10. Smile. If it’s supposed to be a joke and you frown, your audience might not get the cue to laugh
  11. If you smile while you make a joke, and the audience still doesn’t laugh, see “know the audience” (or “talking over your audience’s head”).
  12. Look nice. There are enough cave trolls in the audience. Give people something better to look at.
  13. Be a wingman. If one of your colleagues is getting ogled by above-mentioned cave troll – be sure to intervene on her behalf. Especially if the cave troll is of unspecified gender
  14. Don’t let friends sit in the back row and make you laugh unless they’re part of your shtick. Especially on a panel when it’s not your turn.
  15. Bring pillows. If you’re going to put people to sleep, they may as well be comfortable.