Ben Scofield

me. still on a blog.

A Blast From the Past, for Technical Speakers

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about technical presentations lately - both for my own benefit (since I’m speaking much more often now) and for a specific project I’m working on. In the course of that research, I ran across one essay in particular that I wish was more well known.

Let there be an end to incredibly boring speakers! They are not sophisticated, erudite scientists speaking above our intellectual capacity; they are arrogant, thoughtless individuals who insult our very presence by their lack of concern for our desire to benefit from a meeting which we chose to attend.

So begins Jay H. Lehr’s “Let There Be Stoning!” It was originally published in a research journal in 1985, but it remains an accurate indictment of technical speakers in every discipline I’ve worked in (including academia as well as software development). It’s a quick read, so if you have even the hint that you might be speaking at a technical event in the future, you’d be well-served to read the PDF and spend some real time thinking about its message. Your audience will thank you! (I first discovered this essay through Presentation Zen, which should also be required reading of any and every speaker.)