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Tech talk checklist

When you do a software related talk at a conference or a meetup, there are lots of things to consider.

This is a checklist so that next time I do a talk, I have something to reference.

My target audience is technical folks at meetups and conferences where the audience size is 5ish to 100ish. I’m sure things change as audience size and content types do.

Slide content

  • Have a QR code for slides
  • Have a QR code for any other action you want
    • “Apply for a job with us”
    • “Try our software”
    • “Read our content”
  • End on QR code slides and include “thanks” and contact info
  • Have a resources slide with more info
  • Display your twitter/social handle on every slide in the corner
  • The infamous about me slide
    • Make it quick (> 1 min)
    • Even “who cares”
  • Have a conclusion slide just before the QR code/Thanks slide
  • Ranking of content (all other things being equal)
    • Fewer words is better than more words
    • Pictures or memes are better than words
    • Animated diagrams are better than pictures
      • Easy implementation: have multiple slides that you arrow through
    • Demos are better than animated diagrams
  • Audiences are forgiving of demos, but you can always record a video for backup if the stakes are too high
  • Make code big enough to read
    • Including if you are displaying it from your IDE
  • Highlight important code bits with color
  • Add code to liberally licensed repo
    • Include on the resources slide
  • If presentation is long, break into sections and have section nav on the main section pages to orient audience
  • Don’t be afraid of too many slides
    • Be afraid of people reading your slides
    • Be afraid of boring people


  • Sections of audience won’t be paying attention
    • Focus on those who are
  • Remember that you are the expert and people want you to succeed
  • Pause for questions
    • Include a slide or time at the end
    • Incorporate answers into talk if you get them regularly
  • Be good about time limit
    • Practice
    • Cut stuff in the middle (questions, other sections) to get to conclusion


  • Promote on socials (schedule it)
    • 2-3 weeks out
    • 2-3 days out
    • same day
    • after (include slides)
    • Tag the organizer or conference/meetup if you can
  • Don’t plan on doing anything intense the hour or so before your talk
  • Download a PDF of your presentation in case you don’t have internet
  • Get to the presentation room at least 15 minutes ahead of time
  • Test AV connections including mic if needed
  • Bring your power cord for your computer
  • Connect to people who attended talk if they send a request
  • After talk, hang out for a bit if you have time, to chat with folks. Many won’t ask questions during talk, but will after.

I’ll plan to add more to this as I think of it, but this is a good starting checklist for me.