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openSUSE:Conference speaker guidelines

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Guidelines for speakers at the openSUSE Conference or Summit

Introduction

The openSUSE conference and Summit aim to deliver high quality talks. To help you create a good submission and present a great session we have compiled a list of tips and guidelines below.

Please note:

  • by submitting a proposal, you're promising to to conform to the conference code of conduct.
  • By submitting a proposal, you're giving an OK for your talk to be recorded and live streamed as well as later made available on the internet.

Requirements for a proposal

A proposal should be submitted via the openSUSE Conference and Summit system.

If that really doesn't work for you, send a mail to cfp@opensuse.org (for the conference) or summit-cfp@opensuse.org (for the summit) with in the title CfP Proposal: xxxx (xxx being the title of the proposal) and should contain the following:

  • Type: Talk, discussion or workshop
  • Title: a not-crazy-long title
  • Abstract: an approx 200 word abstract of your talk/discussion/BOF

In case of workshops, consider adding a section about requirements for participants (eg "download this SUSE Studio image"). You don't have to have all the info about that, in that case let us know so you can send it in later. Obviously this might make more than 200 words - no problem.

  • Bio: A short bio of yourself. 50 words please.
  • Picture: a nice shot of yourself in action (or not) would be awesome!

Should I send in something?

Yes, you should.

But I'm not that interesting...

And who are you to judge that? Send us that proposal and we'll tell you! On a more serious note, many more presentations are not given because the author THINKS the subject is not interesting (while it is) than that presentations turn out to be boring. Just do it!

But I'm not a good speaker...

Well, that won't change if you don't talk. Just dive in! If you need a bit of help with giving a good presentation, you can see the tips further in this document. If you want a bit more help, we'd be glad to help you out in person! Each day of the conference or summit will start with a 30 minute Slide Kung-Fu session which will help you create/improve your presentation. If you're unsure about your speaking skills or the quality of your slides, attend this session!

But it is expensive to go to...

While we can't offer support for every speaker by default, we are working very hard to secure funds for travel support and speakers are high on our list of "needs travel sponsorship". So just submit your talk, if money turns out to be the reason you can't come we'll surely find a way.

Tips and tricks

The following aims to help potential speakers and discussion or workgroup leaders with some tips on how to make a good presentation, workshop or discussion.

Talks

Talks are meant to be the traditional 'talk with slides' with about 10 minutes Q&A. You will have a projector at your disposal and if needed we can provide you with a laptop with LibreOffice 3.3+ as well as a PDF viewer and a web browser installed.

Examples

Examples of presentations would be "what is new in OBS 2.4"; "what is YaST";"How we implemented Tumbleweed" and "this is how we do it in Debian"

How

Talks will have a quick introduction by us ("hi, this is XXX who will talk about YYY") but otherwise you are on your own.

Tips: How to give a good presentation

Creating a good presentation IS NOT HARD. Really. You don't have to be a stellar speaker to give a compelling talk. There are plenty of talks which are given by someone who isn't particularly great at speaking. The story matters, don't let details get in the way of your enthusiasm!

Slides

This is why you should be VERY careful with your slides. Often, slides make presentations worse, not better. The trick is simple: get rid of the bullet points and focus on what matters. Often, just one or two words are enough. Or images - they speak stronger than words! Tip: look on flickr.com, go to advanced search and search for pictures which are creative commons. Look for a term or two ("collaboration" for example) and you'll find things ;-) To make it easy, I created this search: [1] It doesn't search on any word, just filters on pics that are CC licensed. Add a term related to what you look for, and try to find something! Usually the majority of pics isn't very good but as they are graphics you can quickly scan them. Searching for 'collaboration' finds this one for example: [2] and this: [3]

Searching on "together" finds even more (and better) stuff: [4]

Be sure to give proper credit at the end of your talk or include a "image by XXX on flickr" on each image!

To help you out, let's go through the process of creating a presentation step by step.

Step one

To make a good presentation, first figure out what you want to say. Think of 3-4 things you want the audience to remember. Yes, they won't remember much more and it'll be generics what they remember anyway, so don't bother putting more in. If you really want to dive in code, a workshop is probably what you want to do! Let's say we talk about an application or tool like OBS. A good example would be: "OBS is worth checking out because it is used a lot already"; "OBS can solve my issues" and "OBS is easy to use".

Step two

Once you've identified those points, you have your structure. Make one slide saying these three or four things (one or two words each: "Important" "Helps you" "Easy"). With this slide, you introduce to the audience that these are the things you want to talk about: OBS is important, can help you, and is easy to use. Or, if you talk about a project: "Why are we cool", "Why should you care" and "How can you help"... And if you talk about something you're good at: "Why is this difficult" "How did I solve it" "Why/how that works".

Step three

Then go through them. Why does it matter? A bit of history, maybe. You don't need a slide with a timeline, really. They won't remember it anyway, so why bother? Show a picture of an early version, or just a clock... A few random dates, also fine. Then a few numbers on use, and the major features or problems it solves (yes, they will forget them. But the goal was to tell them your project, solution or application mattered, remember?). Again, make sure the slides show an image or 1-2 words... Don't bother with lists!!! Then, summarize with one slide saying "OBS matters": OBS matters because it has all the features for packaging. And it is Free, hence - people have picked it up, we have thousands of users!

Next topic. It has the features people want! Talk about this from their perspective: describe a situation they recognize, then explain how your project helps it. Summarize again at the end, but add that the first summary: OBS matters because X and it helps YOU!

Third: It is easy to use. Go through it! Demo a few steps for example. And at the end summarize the three points again. Repetition is what makes sure your audience remembers the key points!

Step four

Finally tell people where to find more information/get it/how to contact you, and answer their questions. Done!

You can find many more tips on the web. These are a few good ones: 10 rules to instantly improve your presentations

  • You know more good sites? feel free to add them!
Test run of the talk

Plan to do at least one test run in front of at least one person. One person can be enough. It will help a lot with regards to timing and will increase the confidence for the actual talk.

Discussions

The Discussion sessions are meant to be interactive and give room for all participants to contribute. We therefore like to get proposals about things which need discussion, insight from others and decisions.

The sessions will furthermore be aided by collaborative tools. We hope to have either an etherpad install or a similar technology like (G|K)obby which allows collaborative note taking and writing.

Examples

Examples would be "What improvements should OBS 2.5 focus on"; "How can we fix the UI of YaST" and "How can we get more packages for Tumbleweed".

Other examples of Discussions would be the typical team meetings for OBS, Artwork or Marketing but also the Foundation or Strategy meetings we had last year and the talk about OBS which turned into a 'so how do we solve this issue' discussion ;-)

How

The Discussion sessions should have an introduction to the subject at hand of up to 15 minutes. If you have much more to say and don't expect a lot of input from others, consider submitting a talk.

You will have flexibility in how you organize your Discussion. While we suggest to use the projector to show the notes (etherpad, Gobby) you can also fall back to slides every now and then. However, if your aim is mostly to teach others, consider giving a Workshop.

There is no objection at all to use the Discussions as very hands-on meetings: feel free to dive into code or packaging! Planning and high-level is all fine but getting work done is always good fun. If you want to for example to get a number of complicated issues fixed, hack up the code on the spot. And if you see an usability issue, solve it! We suggest to use a workshop if your aim is to get work done while guiding people in new areas of expertise. For example if you want to get the packages of a particular subsection in our repositories all updated and offer guidance on doing so in exchange for helping out you'd have a perfect workshop on your hands!

Scheduling

We will schedule BOF/Discussion sessions only until 2 PM (14:00) and leave the rest of the afternoon open for scheduling at the venue! So if your BOF doesn't fit in the schedule you can schedule it directly at the location.

Read more on the BoF/Discussion

On the openSUSE news site you can find an article about the BoF

Workshop

Workshops are meant to teach. It doesn't have to focus on newbies: there is no reason why a workshop can't be for advanced packagers, to teach them even more details or go into hardcore C coding. Moreover, you can use a workshop to get work done, too, as long as coaching and guiding is part of the goals. Otherwise you're better off with a Discussion.

A workshop varies in time depending on our event planning but they usually are longer than talks (one up to four hours). You can basically do it any way you want. We recommend to prepare materials on an USB stick and hand it out to participants. Creating a pre-made SUSE Studio with all the materials ready to go guarantees a quick start! We'd also like to have clear information on what participants need to bring in terms of knowledge and hardware. It might be useful to tell people to put a Studio image or other data you created on a USB drive or CD before coming, so you can count on a heterogeneous environment among the participants. Or tell them to make sure they have the required IDE and development libraries (list them!) installed. It will prevent you from having to spend most of your time solving installation troubles.

Read more about giving a workshop in this openSUSE news article.

Code of Conduct

Please be advised that we would like the talks, discussions and workshops to comply with our conference/summit-wide Code of Conduct! Especially as presenters you have a key role to ensure a pleasant environment at our event!

In short, the following taken from the excellent GNOME Speaker Guidelines should give you a good idea of what we'd like to see:

  • Our community is positive and welcoming. Keep in mind that people can have different views than yours. Therefore, please don't criticize people or ideas unnecessarily harshly. Stick to technical points and offer constructive suggestions for improvement.
  • Remember the audience outside the room. Many presentations are recorded or discussed on the Internet. So be considerate of everybody, not just those that are sitting in front of you.
  • Avoid things likely to offend some people. Your presentation content should be suitable for viewing by a wide range of audiences so avoid slides containing sexual imagery, violence or gratuitous swearing.
  • Avoid unnecessary subjects. Your audience has people from various backgrounds, differing in sexuality, ethnicity, gender and religion. Non-topical references to these subjects can easily make someone uncomfortable.
  • A successful openSUSE Conference or summit involves everyone having fun. If someone in your audience is uncomfortable with something you've said, you're not doing your job. Apologize to them as soon as possible, and try to avoid the topic that triggered this for the rest of your presentation.
  • The openSUSE community is collaborative. If you worry that something is inappropriate, ask a wide range of people beforehand.