How to give an effective presentation at a Data Science Meetup or your next Conference?

How to give an effective presentation at a Data Science Meetup or your next Conference?Wendy WongBlockedUnblockFollowFollowingJan 8Essential skills to help you prepare for your first presentation at a Meetup or Conference.

Photo by Teemu Paananen on UnsplashWe learn about the technical side of data science and spend weeks learning to code and exploring linear regression, logistic regression, PCA, clustering, ridge regression, lasso, decision tree, random forest.

However communication skills are also important for data science: you will need it for an interview, presenting insights to your client who is non-technical, present workshops and also at a Meetup or conference.

2018 was a big year in terms of co-organizing Women in Data Science conference in Sydney we were a regional event as part of the global Women in Data Science Conference (WiDS) and I am ever thankful to Stanford University and UTS for the opportunity.

Where to find speaking opportunitiesSeek and you shall findYou don’t have to be a well seasoned speaker and sometimes you are just not ‘ready’, but opportunities to speak will find you at the right time.

I would have liked 3 months to prepare for my speech at Women in Data Science conference Sydney — but I had to step in on the panel and as a moderator (while checking the final run-sheet for catering, sponsors, signage, audio-visual and keynote speakers have arrived on time).

Network: You might be invited to speak from your existing network.

During the promotion of the Women in Data Science conference last year I was invited to guest speak at a bank in front of a few directors and managers as part of their Women in Technology committee.

It’s part of your job: Sometimes you have to speak because you are part of a team on a project and it is your job to present the data insights and recommendations to your client in a non-technical manner.

Invitation: Sometimes you are invited by your professor or faculty to provide a lightning talk to help new students.

Seeking opportunities: Sometimes if you have to find a worthy cause that matches your values and by all means volunteer to help out the community or speak at a Meetup.

Resources to help you become an effective speakerI recommend the following two books Stand and Deliver: How to become a masterful communicator and public speaker by Dale Carnegie Training and TED Talks by Chris Anderson:Source: BooktopiaSource: BooktopiaAttend a TEDx ConferenceBy scheduling some time to attend a TEDx conference or watch on Youtube some of the speakers from TEDx and watch for cues such as their body language, facial expression, tone of voice, the way they engage with their audience and their use of visual aids.

I attended TEDx Sydney in 2018 and by being part of the audience I recommend you take notes to see how the experts shine in their element.

Join a Toastmasters clubSince practice makes perfect, sign up for a Toastmasters club at your workplace or in your suburb.

Try a few to find out which one you reasonate with and feels like home and make an effort to participate in your club activities such as taking the responsibility lead as a club treasurer, secretary or nominate yourself for table topics or an impromtu speech.

10 Tips for Successful Presentations from Toastmasters InternationalSome of these pointers are from Toastmasters Speechcraft course for a group or individual presentation.

Know the room: Arrive early and get connected with the audio visual team to set up your microphone and your speaker notes.

Familiarise yourself with the room, check your slide deck.

Know the audience: Start speaking to a few people (strangers) or the event organizers as they arrive to ease your nervousness and when you visualise speaking, you will be speaking amongst ‘friends’ and you will smile.

I once arrived early and introduced myself at the RLadies Meetup I volunteered to help with signage and speaking to the early attendees — it helped me relax before I spoke :)Know your material: Prepare a few slides as your visual cue, and in your mind practice your speech in front of the mirror.

Take some quiet time to practice during your lunch break in a meeting room on the day.

I would suggest 5 to 10 slides for a data science presentation e.


presenting to your class at General Assembly or university class.

If you are presenting at a Meetup please convert your slides into a PDF format to lock down the formatting and compress the size of images.

If you are presenting at a conference keep your slides to a minimum so that you can engage with the audience and not have to read information directly from the slide.

Relax: Just breathe and do not drink too much coffee right before your presentation as it could make you feel anxious ????Visualize yourself giving the speech: Close your eyes and visualise yourself giving a successful presentation.

When you set yourself a vision, believe that you can do it.

Realize that people want you to succeed: The audience wants you to be interesting and engaging, they want to learn something of value from you.

They do not want you to fail.

Don’t apologize: Keep silent and do not tell the audience that you feel nervous.

Don’t apologize.

Concentrate on the message — not the medium: Focus on the message that you want to deliver and your audience.

Gain experience: speaking effectively requires experience to build your confidence.

Additonal bonus points I recommendBe your authentic self : The audience can relate to you if you open up and be vulnerable.

For example I shared a story on the GFC and how overcoming this meant a new career away from financial planning at RLadies Meetup last June.

Body language : Since body language is your non-verbal communication and is the first thing people notice about you, stand up with a good posture, let your arms fall to the side of your body and do not sway as you speak.

Pace: Don’t speak too fast or you will lose your audience.

If you speak and pause it will allow you to feel more confident.

Umms: Try to avoid saying too many umms.

Mindmaps: Avoid speaking with notes but prepare by practicing and a colleague recommended drawing a mind map which looks like a network graph and includes your central speaking topic and then branches into three or four sub-topics for your presentation.

Good luck with your presentation and feel free to leave me any comments.

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