Speaking Tips

Speaking Tips

Giving a Presentation at Write the Docs

Are you giving a talk at this year’s Write the Docs? Great! Here are a few things that may help you plan for preparing and presenting your talk.


  • Your talk will be 30 minutes long.
  • We don’t do any group Q&A after the talk (more on that below). Please plan to use the entire slot.
  • We will have a lapel mic for you, so you don’t need to hold a microphone.
  • We will provide HDMI, USB-C and MiniDisplay port adapters.
  • The more you practice your talk, the more comfortable you’ll be. In addition to practicing by yourself, we strongly recommend you run through it in front of at least one other human.
  • If you want to get some of that sweet internet buzz for your talk, we use the #writethedocs hashtag throughout the event.

Presentation format

We do not allow time after the presentations for audience questions. We believe that posing questions for the speaker is best done in small groups. We do encourage you to be available for questions offstage after your talk.

Make sure when you practice your presentation, you are not counting on extra time at the end for questions. You should plan on speaking for the full 30 minutes of your speaking slot. Don’t worry if you run a little short on time however, we are happy to provide attendees with extra time during talk breaks.

If you haven’t spoken before, your time will likely run a bit shorter on stage than when you are practicing. Matt Haughey wrote a guide on giving a presentation that might be helpful if you are new to presenting to an audience. This article on speaking from Hynek is also a wonderful resource, which covers the steps to preparing for a talk.

There are a lot of different ways of thinking through making your slides. Idan Gazit, a previous speaker, has written up a great post on how his process works. Yours might not be the same, but it might be useful to think through the process.

For a ton of useful info and links about every step of this process, this article from the one and only Lena Reinhart, is jam-packed with of good advice.

Diversity and inclusivity

We strongly encourage all speakers to check and double-check their talks for any language that might be discriminatory or offensive. Remember that that includes needlessly gendered language (avoid ‘you guys’, for example), ageist language (please no ‘so easy my grandma could do it!’ anecdotes), and any other language that’s presumptive about or exclusive towards the variety of folks who will be in the audience.

Good resources on this include:

Also, we know there’s a ton of nuance and complexity here – just do your best to be aware of and sensitive about your language choices!

Slide display details

You’re responsible for making sure your laptop, or other display device, is ready for your presentation. Be familiar with setting up an external display on your machine.

You will have several minutes for set up before your talk starts. We also provide an opportunity to test the video connection after the Writing Day, on Sunday afternoon. If you are not around on Sunday but would still like to test the video setup in advance, just let us know.

Here are a few other tidbits to remember:

  • Make sure that your slides are high contrast. This makes them easier for everyone to read in the room.
  • Try not to use the bottom ~10% of your slides, as they might not be visible to everyone.
  • Include your Twitter handle on your slides, so people can properly attribute your brilliance :)
  • Have an offline PDF backup of your slides, just in case :)

Christina Elmore gave a great talk that is relevant to many of us at our 2014 conference. Resist your urge to document with your presentation, you are here for the room. We highly recommend watching the full talk:


Please let us know if you have any more questions. Your questions can help make this document better.