Posted: February 11th, 2010 | Filed under: Conferences | Tags: conference, public speaking, speaking out, training | No Comments »
Last night I attended Speaking out – public speaking made easy organised by Laura North and Christian Heilmann with David Bell, Katie Streten and Christian speaking. Here are my notes.
David Bell (Merrill Lynch) – Focus on presentation styles and contexts
- Contexts – style and delivery vary according to type of meeting (small, large, conference) and your role within it (pitching ideas, asking questions).
- Preparation – the key to being relaxes is to be prepared, focussing on:
- who your audience is
- message you want to deliver
- materials – appropriate slides
- objective – what is the purpose of the meeting / presentation
- Style – presentation style determined by:
- presenters personality
- connecting with audience is vital
- preparation is the key to being relaxed
- be selective with your material – think big picture
- your style will develop over time and comes with practice
- presentations are performances – sometimes they go better than others
- everyone gets nervous – you aren’t the only one
Katie Streten (Imagination) – Reasons not to like public speaking, and some suggestions for dealing with them
- Reason 1 – no one will be interested in what I have to say
- they are there
- you have been asked to speak
- think what you can give them
- Reason 2 – I will go blank
- prepare – write script long hand
- read it to people are yourself
- write card notes
- highlight key moments
- don’t practice too much
- Reason 3 – I’m afraid that everyone will find out that I’m a fraud
- you’ve been asked to speak
- everyone thinks this
- Reason 4 – I will look out over the crowd and freeze
- don’t look at the crown, pick 3 spots to look at
- place a friend at the back to smile at you
- they are more interested in the talk than in you
- Reason 5 – I will lose my place and stall
- use card notes
- audience are on your side
- ‘fess up
- Reason 6 – I will ask something that everyone else understands
- most other people are thinking the same thing
- that’s their problem
- you are helping someone in the audience
- Reason 7 – It feels artificial, it should feel like a conversation
- audience hates it to
- say ‘Hello’
- move your arms at waist height
- don’t have a rigid script
- people genuinely want to hear what you have to say
- think about your audience – what can you give them?
- if all else fails.. try and remember the detail of 1 speech you have heard in your life – no-one can
Christian Heilmann (Yahoo!) – How to inspire as a speaker
Chris has written his own post on the event, which includes a link to his slide deck and video of his presentation.
- Have a different point of view
- Find the story that makes the difference
- Audience and information are more important than the speaker
- Knowing what the audience needs is the most important part of the presentation
- Having the right mindset is important – you have nothing to lose
- How do you get this mindset?
- know your subject
- own your talk
- Practice by:
- loud reading in different character voices
- listening to audio books
- listen to yourself
- Powerpoint Karaoke
- lightning talks
- Get inspired by good examples
- Thinks to avoid
- reading your slides
- forgetting the story
- blinging it up
Posted: September 28th, 2009 | Filed under: Accessibility, Conferences | No Comments »
Last Tuesday, 2009-09-22, I attended AbilityNet’s Accessibility 2.0 conference at Microsoft’s London Victoria offices. Here is my writeup of the notes I took in a mostly unedited form. I hope you can make some sense of it!
You can get the speakers presentations as they become available from AbilityNet.
Greg Fields (RIM) – Designing Accessible Mobile User Interfaces
- Use native UI components where possible.
- Be mindful of colour and contrast; minimum 7:1 contrast.
- Respect user preferences by inheriting global settings.
- Error messages should help users recover from the error.
- Context menus should have the most frequently used option as the initial focus.
- Consistent navigation, controls, interactions throughout the application.
- Progressive disclosure: make users aware of the number of step in a process.
- Organise information by type, meaning, etc.
- Limit ‘chunks’ of info to 3 to 5 items.
Christian Heilmann (Yahoo!) – Neither Technology Nor Accessibility Is Dark Magic
- Accessibility movement does not have impact / momentum.
- Social web can be user to spread the message.
- WiiHab – technology making a difference.
- Web 2.0 is for everyone, not just geeks.
- Branding holds us back, acknowledge and work with the competition.
- Make links understandable and predictable.
- Knowledge + Passion = Accessibility.
- Teaching means being open.
Access Beyond the Desktop
A panel consisting of:
- Lucy Dodd (BBC)
- Henny Swan (Opera)
- Veronika Jermolina (AbilityNet)
- Greg Fields (RIM)
- Damon Rose (BBC Ouch)
- Julian Harty (Google)
- Moblie surpasses landline in some markets.
- Serverside speech recognition can work with fewer client side requirements.
- Concerned about making the same mistakes as on the desktop in 1998.
- Crossover between mobile and desktop accessibility.
- WAI-ARIA, CSS3, media queries, HTML5 and geolocation technologies need to be ported to mobile.
- Progressive enhancement for mobile.
- Mobile is a ‘killer app’ for blind people.
- Mobile sites must not destroy the web experience.
- Same site with mobile stylesheet.
- Allow personalisation and port preferences or allow different preference profiles for desktop and mobile.
- Mobile accessibility requires collaboration between hardware vendors, software vendors and site / application developers.
Lisa Herrod (Scenario Seven) – Understanding Deafness: History Language and the Web
- 1 in 7 (about 9 million) are deaf ro hard of hearing in the UK.
- Big ‘D’ Deaf: culturally deaf, may not speak English as a first language.
- Little ‘d’ deaf: does not identify with the deaf community, English as first language.
Steve Faulkner (Paciello Group) – Accessibility with HTML5 and WAI-ARIA
- HTML5 semantic elements and WAI-ARIA landmark roles do not serve the same purpose.
- Some HTML5 enhancements can be implemented with ARIA now e.g. HTML5 ‘required’ attribute is equivalent to aria-required=”true” attribute.
- Canvas accessibility has fail! Bolt on not built in.
- Audio, video and canvas fallback content should be outside the element – ignore the specification advice.
Mark Boulton (Mark Boulton Design) – Inclusive Design
- Accessibility ‘experts’ need to educate designers better.
- Accessibility is put off as ‘someone else’s problem‘.
Saqib Shaikh (Microsoft) – Silverlight Accessibility
- Same accessibility challenges and requirements as any other development – colour contrast, semantics, etc.
- Detects high contrast and operating system colours.
- Works with browser zoom.
- Controls are ‘lookless’ – their function is separate to their appearance.
To Comply Or Not To Comply
A panel consisting of:
- Kath Moonan (AbilityNet)
- Bim Egan (RNIB)
- Léonie Watson (Nomensa)
- Mark Boulton
- Lisa Herrod (Scenario Seven)
- Christain Heilmann (Yahoo!)
- Accessible products can still have beautiful design.
- Guidelines are a starting point not the end, and shouldn’t stop innovation.
- Responsibility for accessibility should not just lie with developers.
- Test early, test often, with as diverse a group of users as possible, with and without disabilities.
This was yet another great day for accessibility learning in the UK, following on from Techshare the previous week and Standards.Next at the weekend. Every presentation had something to say, and as usual it was good to get a chance to talk with like minded individuals throughout the day.
The day brought up a lot of discussion over how best to create mobile sites: same markup with a mobile stylesheet or a separate implementation based on the same content source. This is not my area of expertise, but I find it an interesting question nonetheless. I’m looking forward to hearing more on this.
There is one point I would like to comment on. Mark Boulton said that the current crop of accessibility experts, who in the main are developers, need to do more to educate designers. Kath Moonan said that developers were heroes for being the ones to learn the skills needed, and it was also said that developers should not be the only ones with whom responsibility for accessibility lies.
At the moment developers are expected to know about accessibility not just when it comes to the code they produce, but also in terms of design and content, which they are not necessarily involved in producing. While I agree that developers can help designers catch up this can’t last. Developers cannot continue to be the single point through which accessibility is researched and knowledge distributed.
It seems to me that designers need to not only take responsibility for the accessibility of their work but also for their own education. Those of us who have been thinking about such things for longer can start the ball rolling, but beyond that we should be working towards developers and designers having a basic but broad knowledge of accessibility on top of which each group builds its own specialist knowledge.
Posted: September 24th, 2009 | Filed under: Accessibility, Conferences, Technical | Tags: accessibility, cognition, standards.next | 8 Comments »
On Saturday, 2009-09-19, the second Standards.Next event took place at City University in London, organised by Henny Swan and Bruce Lawson. This time the subject was ‘Cognition and accessibility’, a much overlooked topic.
I had the distinct pleasure of speaking along side some remarkable and talented people: Antonia Hyde, Jamie Knight and David Owens.
There have been several good write ups of the event already, but I’ll add my thoughts as well. The ‘key points’ are what I took from each speaker, not necessarily what they intended to be the most important.
Antonia Hyde – Accessibility beyond code
Antonia has rare access to testing time with users with learning difficulties, people who benefit tremendously from the internet. The work she does is invaluable in teaching us how we, as developers, can help. As you may be able to tell I’m a big fan!
- Describe content and controls literally – ambiguity is a barrier to comprehension
- Combine icons with text to re-enforce messages
- Colour coded blocks of content or sections of a site can enhance structure
Jamie Knight and Lion – Autism, the Internet and Antelopes
Before Standards.Next Jamie was interviewed by Henny about his experience of being a web developer / designer with autism. This was eyeopening and truly astonishing – the idea that stress could affect a person’s ability to talk for the next seven months came as a shock to me.
On the day he added to this with an entertaining talk and further Q&A.
- Fast paced action and speech in video can be hard to follow
- Screen readers can help process content
- Instructions must be in a literal form
David Owens – Lessons Learned Doing Usability Testing
David has recently been involved in user testing, something that few developers are able to do enough of. It is great that he works for a company that sees the value in this, because it is something that even big organisations often skip.
- Users can’t always remember how to do things that they have done before
- Font re-size widgets still have a place, even though they duplicate browser functionality
- Put flash controls before the flash so that users are made aware of them before they give up
Me! – Content and Cognition
It has been very interesting to read what other people took from my talk. In a way I felt that I was giving a summary of many of the points the other speakers had made. It reinforced my opinion that so many of the things we need to do to make our sites usable applies to most of the groups that we, rightly or wrongly, put users in.
The points I was trying to make were:
- Avoid distractions
- Mix content types to reach a wider audience
- Provide feeds or APIs to allow others to transform your content in to new forms
It also kicked off a number of interesting discussions.
- I advised that popup windows should be avoided. Kath Moonan added that lightboxes, which are like in-page popups, also test badly with users. It appears that Alastair Campbell may be planning some research on this matter.
- I advised to not create elastic layouts, because this makes font-resize work like page-zoom rather than these being separate things. This removes choice from users. Some may disagree with me but I think it is a valid argument. Mike Davies has asked me to write more about this for one of his sites, so there will opportunity to flame me at a later time.
My slides are available online.
Posted: December 10th, 2008 | Filed under: Conferences, General, Technical | Tags: barcamp, bcliverpool, conference, liverpool, YDN | No Comments »
My fifth ever blog post has just been posted to the Yahoo! Developer Network blog!
Not bad for my first week of blogging!
Posted: December 9th, 2008 | Filed under: Conferences | Tags: barcamp, bcliverpool, conference, liverpool | No Comments »
Day two of BarCamp Liverpool started with ‘Let’s talk about sex’, an open discussion where, amongst other things Ian Forrester asked if geeks can talk about sex in an mature and adult way. The answer is ‘no’! This was probably the most entertaining part of the BarCamp, but possibly not for the right reasons.
In ‘How to pimp yourself’ Richard Quick talked about how to promote yourself as a freelancer, or as a company. He gave his 7 tips for success, and we then moved on to a discussion which expanded on his ideas. The information doesn’t directly apply to me these days, but there was plenty about how best to behave at conferences to make this a good session for me.
Cristiano Betta then talked about ‘Using wordpress for OpenID’. The WP-OpenID plugin allows you to use your WordPress blog to login to OpenID consumers. We followed this up with a general discussion on OpenID, particularly how to spread its use to the masses.
The last session I attended was ‘Don’t Just Change the World… Improve It!’ from Adrian McEwen. Adrian had returned to Liverpool late in the Capital of Culture year, and he talked about the changes he had seen, and his ideas on how we can make a difference in our communities.
With all that serious business out of the way all that remained was the obligatory game of Werewolf. I’d only played once before, and with a much smaller group, so this was great fun. I was killed while I peacefully slept, but it was almost as much fun to watch.
And with that, my first BarCamp was over. I will be back for more.
Posted: December 7th, 2008 | Filed under: Conferences | Tags: barcamp, bcliverpool, conference, liverpool | No Comments »
I’m waiting for the second day of BarCamp Liverpool, so I thought I’d take the time to write down my thoughts on day one.
I didn’t really know what to expect from a BarCamp, but whatever it was this event wasn’t it! Out of 200 places I guess about 100 people actually turned up, a sizeable number, but a little disappointing event even if you take in to account the inevitable wastage when tickets are free.
First job: book a slot to speak. My chosen subject: accessibility. I thought I’d stick to what I know. I’ll write about how that went in a separate post.
After an introductory speech from the organisers I moved on to a talk about ‘The 3D Web’ from Stephen Clibberly. I have to say I am not convinced by this technology, but it was interesting none the less.
Next, ‘How to be a dead good speaker’ from Phil Winstanley. As I would be speaking for the first time here I though that this would be a good subject for me. Realisation that I had done most of the things I shouldn’t have done in my slides didn’t help with my nerves at all, of course!
‘Readable Perl’ was after lunch (food for 200 people, eaten by 100!). Now I’ve disliked Perl for about 8 years, mostly because I had to work with badly written code. Seeing examples of how nice Perl can be might have changed a little bit, but I think I’ll stick to PHP and Python for now.
‘Getting started with Arduino – How to build a twitter monitoring Alertuino’ by Adrian McEwen has a fairly self explanatory title. Adrian modified a toy laser gun to activate whenever someone made a direct tweet to a particular address. I’m surprised I haven’t heard of Arduinos before. I may have to invest in a kit.
Then little me…
After this I took part in a ‘Privacy open discussion’ led by Alistair MacDonald. 4 of us spent 45 minutes giving our opinions on where the line is between personal and private when we blog, tweet, or otherwise post online.
Finally was a demo of Pacemaker form Ian Forrester. Now, I don’t share Ian’s taste in music, but this session was great fun. The Pacemaker is an impressive bit of kit, I don’t think it is the iPod killer that Ian would like it to be, but it is pretty cool.
And then on to the party. Free drinks courtesy of Microsoft, who also provided prizes for a raffle and startup competition. Their products are not entirely appreciated by an audience that seemed to be primarily Mac and Linux users, but I don’t suppose that is their fault.
And so day one came to an end.
Posted: December 6th, 2008 | Filed under: Conferences, General | Tags: barcamp, bcliverpool, conference, first!, liverpool | No Comments »
After many years of procrastination, I have finally started my first blog.
What it is going to be about remains to be seen, but I suspect I’ll be writing about web development, particularly accessibility and usability, and might include the odd political rant and my views on various human rights issues.
This is a weekend for firsts for me. First blog. First blog post. And also my first BarCamp, which will hopefully involve my first crack at technical public speaking. I’m attending BarCamp Liverpool, the first in the city and billed as the biggest in the UK so far. Post #2 will in all probability be about day 1.