Do you have any tips on giving talks?

Hi fellow Elixirsts

What your advice on how to give a talk? especially when you don’t have much of experience as a programmer?

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Some simple things that I have found help a lot:

  • Practice your presentation a couple times, start to finish, and at least once in front of someone else if you can, but don’t practice it too many times (easily leads to “robotic” presenting). This will definitely help with confidence …
  • Give yourself enough time per slide; 5 minutes per “talking” slide, and 1.5-3 minutes per “demo” slide.
  • Don’t put the exact words you are going to say on your slides; this ends up in slide reading, and that is not very fun for the audience
  • In fact, keep text to a minimum on your slides overall; pictures, code, bullet lists … the slides are a backdrop to your story, but not the story itself
  • Stick to one topic, and make sure there is a clear intro, middle and end. But avoid the “academia template” of an Agenda slide at the start and a summary slide at the end. BOOORING! :wink:
  • Be confident in what you present; if you aren’t sure about some point, researchit, pass it by other people, etc.
  • If the audience asks questions you don’t know the answer to, it’s ok, just note that it is a good question and you’ll have to look into it later. Everyone has knowledge limits, and every audience knows that.
  • Go slow and connect with your audience when you are presenting. They want you to succeed up there, and are interested in what you are saying. So enjoy it! :slight_smile:

Most of all, just try and relax and enjoy the process. It can be a lot of fun presenting to people, and when you’re enjoying it your audience will enjoy it more too :slight_smile:

Best of luck!


Prepare for your talk. Think through what you are going to say and don’t try to “wing it”.

I second the advice you’ve been given about not putting too many words on the slides. You, telling your story, are the most important part of the presentation and the slides are a supplement.

Speaker’s notes are fine, but they should be there to remind you of stuff… don’t just read the notes.

Practice so you know how long the presentation will be.


Best thing for me is to write a speech, present it against family and against the mirror, we’re usually our biggest challenge.


If you’re presenting without a significant amount of experience, make that clear in your presentation. Depending on your audience, framing a presentation as “My experience with learning X” vs “This is about X” will put you in better context with the audience. The former clearly says, I’m learning a lot and this is what stood out to me. The latter says, I’m close to a subject matter expert and I invite your disagreements over a beer afterwards. :slight_smile:

If you’re not ready for that latter experience, stick to the former.

I’ll give another vote to limiting content on the slides. Focus more on what you’re going to say than how it looks on the slide. The way I tend to accomplish this is to give presentations with either White text on Black slides or Black text on White slides. Keeps it simple, clean and gives you one less thing to think about.

Other than that, practice practice practice. Once you’ve gotten a few presentations out of the way, putting together some slides and then going to talk without so much rehearsal gets a lot easier but it’s not for everybody. The words always come out clearer if you’ve practiced.