Don't stop 'til you get enough
August 9, 2011 2:57 PM   Subscribe

Presentation to open source conference. How much is enough ?

I've done talks to user groups before (not many) but never with a 'You have 30 minutes' type restraint. How can you estimate the amount of material that's going to fill 30 minutes ?

It doesn't have to super accurate because once I've got a first draft I can read it to my cat and adjust as necessary but just as a very broad starting point how can you estimate how much material to present in 30 minutes ?

I realise this is a broad question touching about the nature of both the material and the audience but I feel there must be more experienced presenters out there who have some ideas !
posted by southof40 to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Ha ! As soon as I posted I came across this which has some good advice from a number of angles.

Still interested to hear of others experience/techniques
posted by southof40 at 3:00 PM on August 9, 2011

Best answer: Ten slides X three minutes a slide = 30 minute presentation. Adjust upwards or downwards depending on how much content to present. I think ten slides, give or take, would be about right for a talk of that length.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:11 PM on August 9, 2011

One tip not present on the page you linked: Don't assume you'll be able to fill any time with questions. Have enough material to fill the whole time, but the material at the end should be optional in case there are questions.
posted by jedicus at 3:11 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Be sure to do a walk-through with someone with a timer in her hands. You'll be able to polish your presentation, but, more importantly, she'll be able to help you focus on time management.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:12 PM on August 9, 2011

Best answer: Journalists are taught the inverted pyramid as a scheme for writing because they never know if their editor is going to have to lop off paragraphs at the end. I've found that it's also a sensible way to present because you never know if you're going to be slowed down by discussion or questions.

Obviously if you have a talk where you won't take questions till the end this is less pertinent but it still plays somewhat - you may find yourself in a group that's more advanced than you expect and need to shed some up-front material to keep from losing them to boredom.

Again, this all depends on your format but I like to circle around material and "zoom in" on the details. Here's what I'm going to tell you. Here's the details. Here's the way it ties up. If I leave the deep weeds for the end I can either spend more time on it if the audience calls for me to be lighter on the overview or I can leave it as a matter for personal inquiry if they needed more up-front foundation.
posted by phearlez at 3:41 PM on August 9, 2011

how can you estimate how much material to present in 30 minutes ?

There's really no substitute for practicing your talk with a stopwatch.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:00 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you talk as fast as I do, you can get 150 one-sentence thoughts into a half hour: example.

I would aim for 75 and let people ask questions if you run out of time. It looks bad if you can't finish your talk. It doesn't look bad if there is plenty of time for questions and people can get a cup of coffee before the next talk without being late.

Also, if you have less material, you can start late without missing important stuff. I had a talk after "the break" once, and people came about 20 minutes late at a rate of about 1 every 3 seconds. I couldn't start the talk because of the disruption and the people that arrived on time got mad at me for that. So start on time and don't have too much material.

If your talk is more than an hour long, though, then you're going to have to practice. Because it's bad if your 3 hour tutorial only takes 10 minutes.
posted by jrockway at 5:27 PM on August 9, 2011

Best answer: Estimate one slide per minute. I would talk for 20 minutes and allow 10 minutes for questions, but have something to pull out of the hat if it looks like questions won't fill the full 10 minutes.
posted by tel3path at 6:13 PM on August 9, 2011

In my experience with open source presentations, don't forget to budget 5 minutes getting the laptop and projector working.
posted by pwnguin at 5:34 PM on August 10, 2011

Response by poster: Really great answer, thanks to all of you. Difficult to know which to 'mark as best answer' - thanks again.
posted by southof40 at 3:55 PM on August 11, 2011

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