I spoke on Building APIs, focusing mostly on the upfront design of APIs, at the most recent Las Vegas PHP Meetup. Overall this was defiantly one of my better talks with lots of good feedback. One key things helped I believe in the preparation and eventual presentation of the talk. I presented a rough version of this to my fellow Loadsys employees with some valuable feedback provided from them.
I presented at this week’s Las Vegas PHP meetup on PHP Classes and Object Oriented Programming. I did a quick run through of both the basics of OOP and how PHP classes and objects work. If you’ve done PHP OOP for any length of time most everything will be commonplace. Though I did add a bit about SOLID and we had a good discussion on the visibility of properties and methods that was useful for even an experienced user.
Each time I present the feedback says it goes better each time. I’m coming down hard against trying to either present code (outside of slides) or actually live code during a presentation. At least today, in the future after I’ve done this dozens of times I might change it up.
The basis of the talk was getting over the inertia in writing tests in either a pre-existing application or just getting started writing unit tests in general. It went over very well with a good question and answer session afterwards. While I didn’t spend as much time prepping for this talk, I was comfortable enough with the material (and helped there was no code involved) that it was a solid presentation.
The short summary of the talk is for every new method/bug-fix/feature written, write a test for something else at the same time, and start with the stuff that is easier to test.
I’ve been going through a few different pieces of software for writing and displaying my presentations and this is the first time I’ve been really happy with the tool-chain. I used Deckset, which is a Markdown based presentation system with some great looking styles.
Humorous aside, my spelling is atrocious and even though I had to type out “inertia” dozens of times I misspelled it every time and even just now writing this up, I misspelled it every time.
Since moving to Las Vegas, I’ve joined the PHP Users Group. Overall it’s been a great experience meeting people in the community and hearing about more PHP stuff. Since I’ve been there I’ve given a few talks and figured I should list them here.
First up, a talk that was an introduction to CakePHP. Probably my best talk out of the three listed. It was informative, with lots of questions and I knew the material really well (one would hope considering it is my day job).
Next was a talk on Ember.js, this one didn’t turn out so well. I under prepared for it, and it showed. It also didn’t help that I mostly based my talk on a co-worker’s slides. Overall this was novice hour for me. Moral of the story – don’t give talks unless you know the information and don’t try to base a talk using someone else’s work.
Last presentation was one on PHPUnit, which went ok. I knew the material better than the Ember stuff but there were a few weak areas. Overall I think it went pretty well but it could have gone better.
Some random thoughts on public speaking
Public speaking (of a sort) is something that I used to do much more often, it’s been good to stretch that part of my brain over the past few months and get a handle on delivering talks that deal with technical information for a generally technical audience. It is definitely something I want to do more of in the future and to get better at.
Not everyone may want to do this type of thing, but if you are interested in it, I would urge you to give it a shot. It is easier than what you think. I would suggest pick a topic you are very familiar with and can answer questions on the fly about. Feel free if you get a question that you can’t answer to say so, rather than present imprecise information.
Are you serious??? Is pretty much what went through my head all yesterday listening to a round of speeches by students on their future career. Some quick background information, currently I am taking a public speaking class, and the class admittedly is pretty boring for me as I did debate in high school. The class is a basic introduction to public speaking, how to speak and gaining some quick and dirty practice speaking in front of an audience. So no one here is expected to be an expert public speaker or even in all honesty a decent public speaker. However this last round of speeches made me question some students’ choice in their career field and their logical capabilities.
The first set of speeches were okay, mainly because the students were allowed to use multiple note cards for the speech. Although granted the majority just read from the note cards for most of the time, the speeches were acutally pretty decent for a first time speech. The next round of speeches have just gone downhill. The students are only allowed one note card for a 4-5 minute speech and the problems just increased like crazy.
We have speeches that run on and on, for over 6 minutes in one case. Which you lose points for going over the time limit. Also we have speeches that have logic that is simply indescribable. For instance one student mentioned that to do well in this field you had to be outgoing and a desire to meet people and “that unless you’ve lived in a cave for the last 10 years you can do that.” Ummm in case you haven’t heard there are a whole group of people called introverts that are the exact opposite of outgoing and they really are not a small portion of the population or live in caves. In fact we even talked about these sort of people in our class and discussed some of the research into introverted and extroverted personalities so you have no excuse for not knowing these people exist. Or the person who discussed a field that has exactly 3 schools that specialize in it and isn’t growing at all because the field by it’s very nature is basically stagnant. If this person had done any sort of research they would have realized this and not said that it was growing because well there was no reason given, but it was growing. The one that personally took the cake was the student who used their mother as a credible expert. Really your mom is a credible expert, what are her credentials, oh she doesn’t have any, thanks but no thanks.
My overall favorite though was the several marketing majors who described confidence as an important aspect to their job and yet were obviously unconfident in giving their respective presentations. They destroyed their entire creditability in one sentence without a single person having to think at all. It was horrifying on some levels. The sad thing is that it wasn’t just one person who did it, multiple marketing people got up in front of the class looked scared and nervous like you wouldn’t believe and then said that to do marketing you had to be confident.
I’m writing this hoping that at some point I will understand what drives people to miss these glaring problems in their speeches as well as try and come to term with how some people truly decide on their field of study in college.