Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A small rant on presenting at conferences

The more conferences I run the more sympathy I have for other conference organizers, even the big commercial ones, and the more inclined I am to follow their rules and requests- but I expect the conferences to have a clue about what’s involved in delivering a good presentation and facilitate that, not hinder it.

If there are glitches at a BSides or other smaller, volunteer-run, or new events I’m OK with that.  It happens.  What I can’t stand are conferences which try to manage the speakers in ways that prevent delivering quality presentations.

First and foremost, I hate having to rely on the conference’s laptops for presentation.  I completely understand the desire to avoid the regular struggles of getting the right settings between a new laptop and the projector or display at the beginning of each session, but most “house laptop” situations I’ve been in are far worse than the lost couple of minutes of the VGA adapter shuffle.  The most common gripe I have is the loss of presenter view.  I want my notes, damn it- stop stealing them from me.  If I have to use your damned laptop, with its lack of fonts, odd and/or old versions of software, aspect ratio distortion and such- please, in the name of all that is good, give me presenter view.

And then we have your slide templates.  I’m sorry, but they suck.  Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Sucks.  Sure, mine suck, too- but in ways I expect.  Your templates and themes take away layout flexibility, they screw up notes pages, and sometimes even hinder basic functionality I rely on.  But then, you want me to use your crappy laptop, so those functions don’t work anyway.

I get it, you run cons, you don’t speak at them, so I’ll forgive you for past transgressions.  But not future ones, our audiences deserve better.