Clearleft offers free training to budding conference speakers | February 3, 2010

In order to get more people in the design scene speaking at events like SillSwap, BarCamp and even dConstruct or UX London, I’ve been toying with the idea of organising a free public speaking course. It would be held on a yet-to-be-determined Saturday at the Clearleft offices in Brighton and would focus on practical, hands-on tuition.

We would start with how to plan, research and design a talk that delights your audience, paying special attention to story telling and narrative. We would then move onto the delivery and performance side of things; teaching people how to project their voice, vary their tone, use the stage and work the audience. It’s all basic stuff, but it’s these rookie errors that can damage an otherwise excellent presentation.

To ensure everybody gets the individual attention they need, the even will be for a limited number of people. I’m not sure how many yet, but probably no more than 12. Everybody will be expected to present a short practice talk and we’ll video each session so the attendees see how they improve over the day. So they’ll be no tourists.

This workshop will be aimed at people who are really keen on breaking into the conference speaking circuit and need some coaching and improvement. So it’s not for folks who want to brush up on their general speaking skills.

In order to select the best candidates I’m asking that people record a short 5 min presentation, post it up on Vimeo and then add the link in the comments below. If you could add a little background info as well, that would be great.

We’re not looking for super slick presentations, or the folks that need the most help. Instead we’re looking for people with an interesting message and a passion for what they do. Oh, and at the risk of being charged with positive discrimination, if there are two equally strong candidates and one comes from an under represented segment in the web community, we’ll invite them first.

Posted at February 3, 2010 4:57 PM


Dan Donald said on February 3, 2010 5:17 PM

Sounds like a great idea Andy! I’ll have to get something sorted and drop it over to you. It’s tough to work out how to do this well!

DannyT said on February 3, 2010 5:42 PM

Great idea, there are so many people with an interesting story to tell but not so clued up on delivery.

Will an existing video of an existing presentation suffice or are you assessing the content of the video as well as the delivery style? I.E. would a video created specifically for this purpose be of more value?

Arjan Haring said on February 3, 2010 6:35 PM

Awesome idea!

Gonzalo González Mora said on February 3, 2010 6:48 PM

What a great idea :) Is there any chance of video-taping the training so that people who can’t attend (I, for example, am from Argentina so there’s no way I could attend), can also profit from your tips? Thanks and good luck with this project!

Justin Carmony said on February 3, 2010 9:38 PM

I would like to second Gonzalo’s request. I personally have been speaking about more web development and technologies this last year, but I know I could always improve more. Living in Utah, USA, I probably wouldn’t be able to make it out to your neck of the woods. ;)

Harry Brignull said on February 4, 2010 9:58 AM

Move over X-Factor, hello UX-Factor!

Sjors said on February 4, 2010 10:57 AM

Splendid idea I’d be up for it :) I’ll start working on it this weekend

johanna said on February 4, 2010 2:41 PM

oh yes. i’ve started working on my ia summit talk, and am very scared. is there a deadline, andy? trying to get something up on vimeo on the weekend.

Andy Budd said on February 4, 2010 7:38 PM

I’d prefer it if people made an original 5 min video.

Rosie said on February 5, 2010 1:31 PM

What a great opportunity! I’ll try and make my 5 minute video this weekend.

Dom said on February 5, 2010 11:41 PM

Hi Andy,

Caught this message through the BNM list. I’m certainly interested in this opportunity, though not sure whether I’d qualify as falling within your demographic. Still, I’ll pitch my reason for wanting to make use of the opportunity here and see what you say.

I’m a language teacher who is trying to bring greater use of web technologies into the classroom context. I’m keen to spread the word to the teaching community a little more about the benefits of the web as a learning tool for students and teachers alike. I recently presented a workshop on blogging at an in-house company conference and also presented at the last Brighton BarCamp.

Would I fit as a potential candidate? I’m also not sure I’ll be able to put a video presentation together or not by this weekend as I have some study deadlines to meet, but this does sound like a great opportunity!

Silent Lamb said on February 7, 2010 5:55 PM

I wanted to comment on your December post about the teaching of web design. I work at an educational institution. Web design is either taught in the art department which is all about appearance with no regard for functionality what so ever. If it looks cool, has some spiffy effect, or uses some esoteric technology, it will get an A+. It doesn’t matter if you can use the site or not, because it’s art. The alternative is that it’s taught in the engineering department by some fossil who hasn’t worked for a client or kept up with the industry in the last 20 years. Since he’s got tenure, he doesn’t have to update his curriculum. Why should he? That might actually require doing that thing called work. He might actually have to learn something himself or, heavens forbid, update his syllabus and curriculum.

On the web, seconds can make or break a sale. When the time scale you operate in is measured in nanoseconds, 1 year out of the game is an eternity. 20 makes you beyond irrelevant.

Web design has been totally divorced from UI design. IMHO, that is a HUGE mistake. Your web site is ultimately a UI. And there is a long history of UI design in software applications. It is, in fact, a required course for most programmers who write desktop or client-server apps. Yet, web designers, who do NOTHING BUT UI aren’t required to take it. I’ve yet to see any institution that requires UI design as part of their web design curriculum.

However, web designers are critical to the success or failure of web sites. You can have a fairly unattractive site that people can use and it will be extremely popular. Google and Facebook certainly both lack eye candy, yet because they are very functional, they are two of the most popular sites on the internet

The flip side of this are sites like a major auto parts store which used to be 100% in flash. It was clunky, nearly impossible to use, slow on all but the fattest of pipes, and served to run off so many customers that this major corporation paid to have the site redesigned a second time less than a year later.

Another thing that I see a lot of is the complete and utter failure to test the site in multiple browsers and on multiple operating systems. It might not look perfect in Opera on Linux but it shouldn’t fail to load, either! My cellular carrier got a very nasty letter from me recently because they had redesigned their site and it would not work from my mac or linux machines. Even after trying some of the XP Pro machines at work, I still wasn’t having any luck at being able to log in or use the navigation. I had to borrow a friend’s laptop that runs Vista so I could use IE 8 to pay my phone bill. It didn’t even work from Firefox on his laptop! Their entire site only worked in IE 8 on Windows Vista. It had to be that version of the browser on that operating system, or you couldn’t even log in or navigate the site.

IMHO, any budding designer ought to have to eat their own dog food. And they ought to have to participate in some usability studies. THAT should be required for anyone doing web design.

Tyler Tate said on February 10, 2010 8:19 AM

It’s an exciting idea and a generous offer. By Monday I’ll have a 5-minute talk on “The History of Colour” (a topic I just submitted to Ignite London) recorded and sent your way.

Beth Granter said on February 11, 2010 9:58 AM

Hey Andy,

Nice one for offering this. I was wondering about who you’re looking for - when you say you want people in the ‘design scene’, I’m guessing someone wanting to talk about other web stuff like social media (not really design) would not qualify?

james said on February 11, 2010 10:25 AM

I’ve got a dumb question - do you want a video of the slides, with voice-over? Or a video of the person standing & presenting infront of a screen, waving their arms &etc?

claire rowland said on February 11, 2010 6:34 PM

when’s the deadline for the vimeo submissions?

Mazarine said on February 11, 2010 9:17 PM

So, Right. I am not in England. but I want to see this on Vimeo or Youtube. Will you be uploading it?

Anastasia Konstantinova said on February 12, 2010 4:02 AM

Thank you for the kind offer, over the weekend I’ll post a link to a video of me speaking on a web/internet user experience topic I feel strongly about.

Anastasia Konstantinova said on February 13, 2010 1:52 PM

Changed my mind and schedule, still thinking great offer though, hope it goes well!

Rosie said on February 14, 2010 11:41 PM

Hi Andy,

When’s the deadline for this? Have all the spaces been filled?

Thanks - it looks a really exciting opportunity.

Andy Budd said on February 17, 2010 12:27 AM

No specific deadline. Just as soon as I’ve got enough interest really.

Rosie said on February 17, 2010 10:01 AM

Hi Andy,

OK, here’s my talk: a very basic introduction to Museums at Night I’d like to give presentations to different audiences about different aspects of the campaign, from the online and social media aspects to the community-building element, but this is an initial introduction.

Tyler Tate said on February 19, 2010 10:48 AM

Last weekend I put together the material for my 5 minute talk entitled “A History of Colour,” and posted the rough video to Vimeo . It’s a talk I’m working on for the upcoming Ignite London. In the future, I envision talking about user experience and search related topics.

Thanks again Andy for the generous offer. I’d love to participate in the training day!

Avangelist said on March 25, 2010 12:36 PM

Who is writing blinkin essays in “comment” boxes?

I will be looking at submitting a vimeo

Julia Barnickle said on April 1, 2010 5:39 PM

Hi Andy

I’ve only just found out about this amazing offer (a bit slow, I know). Is it too late to participate?

Garry said on April 9, 2010 1:27 PM

The methods you have mentioned would gradually improve a person’s speaking skills and this would work for even those who start from scratch.
From closed room speeches to full capacity audience,this is the journey which most of us make. I commend your detailing on this subject.