ASCII by Jason Scott

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Presentation: Shmoocon, One Laptop Per Child —

Well, if we’re going to talk like I should give lessons on presentations, I might as well show what one of mine looks like. This is the shortest presentation I’ve ever given, a 7 minute whirlwind I gave at Shmoocon 2007, on the One Laptop Per Child panel presented on the last day. I’ve blasted it into Youtube, again, because I don’t particularly care about the quality being perfect. If you want the full presentation in MPEG4 quality, just head over to either the shmoocon 2007 video collection or my mirror of same.

The circumstances of this situation were that I proposed a talk to Shmoocon, and they responded with whether I’d like to co-present with two other guys. I said yes and then they added a fourth guy, and we were assigned about an hour and change to present. Because of that, I collapsed anything I had into the 3rd presentation, and instead gave a short introduction to why anyone should be spending time punching the One Laptop Per Child project in the face when it’s trying to do so much good. This is useful to know because I wanted to keep good time so we didn’t run over, and so I was rather rushed in how I dropped stuff in. I expected it would be 15 minutes, and it clocked in at less than half that. All of us did similar, and I think it’s great how we ended up doing that.

In my presentation, I give at least one wrong piece of information: I say the flood happened on a summer day, and in fact it was just an unseasonably warm winter day. So don’t write in. Also, I cut out a lot of the intermediate steps of the AC-DC war for time reasons. Otherwise, it is what it is.

Introducing us is Bruce Potter. Bruce is a fantastic speaker, a perfect alpha-male voice combined with a solid sense of timing and riding the audience, which is not coincidentally what I do as well. When either of us talk, you can hear us react to the audience, blowing out to tangents as needed but then snapping back as quick as we can.

So here that is on youtube. Again, these are just the parts with me or referencing me.

Several things to note about my talk (other than what’s above):

  • The opening joke was on my burner with an alternate opening if I thought it wouldn’t fit. I decided it fit and went with it, but I had a backout plan for a more “appropriate” line of statement.
  • My list is intentionally weird and unexplained for a while. This was to draw the audience in and the “mystery” of why these three things are mentioned is meant to bring the audience through the boring parts, if any.
  • A portion of it is unscripted; I hear the joke the same time as the audience. The whole line starting from “As soon as you see one of these” to “muffin of Africa” is complete improvisation and I heard it for the first time as I said it. Similarly, wrapping it up with “muffin of your lands” was me revising the talk as I went to end on such a positively-reacted-to turn of phrase. I had a different ending.
  • Compare how much I spend checking my notes with looking out at the audience. This is the opposite ratio I see in a lot of speeches and it’s probably my least favorite thing to watch.
  • I also have no powerpoint or any accompanying presentation for the screen; it’s all me. This is my style but that doesn’t work for everyone.
  • The mooninites joke and the barbie aside were improv as well, reading the “feel” of the audience. And again, I heard them at the same time the audience did.
  • Also note that when whoever it was who interrupted me finishes, I don’t engage them in conversation but go right back on track. They shouldn’t have stopped me midflow and any additional time I spent engaging them in talking was wasted time for the other hundreds of attendees (I believe there were roughly 600-700 people in the room).
  • The whole talk started with the words “fatal hilarity”.

One last thing. I presented on this panel with Ivan Krstic. I think that in 20 years I will get free food and drinks because I will be able to say I presented on the same panel as Ivan Krstic. I also presented with Sean Coyne and Scott Roberts, and I’ll probably get at least a few drinks off of saying I presented with them as well.

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  1. Cloudy says:

    Well other than the start were you sounded kinda lost and uncertain (I prefer a much more direct and aggressive introduction), it was pretty good. I couldn’t quite make out what it was that the audience said, but it wasn’t all that important.

  2. Jason Scott says:

    I think I sound pretty direct and aggressive after I finish playing the part required for the joke. (Acting like, uh oh, I thought I was going to do a different speech…)

    Nobody can make out what the person said. They weren’t miked, they just felt they could shout out in the middle of my talk. As you saw, I zoomed right by that.

  3. cassiel says:

    I could imagine what the audience said at that part of the speech: they even did electroexecute an elephant, who attacked a man, with AC around 1900. I’ve seen some footage of this in a documentary about the Edison/Westinghouse DC/AC battle.

  4. blasdelf says:

    Is the rest of the OLPC panel up anywhere?