Blogging 101

Audio of my Blogging 101 presentation at Northern Voice
Keeping consistent with my desire not to hear my voice, I haven't listened to it yet. But if you missed it the first time, now you can!

What I Was Happy With, And What I Wanted to Say, At Northern Voice's Blogging 101 Session

There are a few things I would do very differently at Friday's Blogging 101 for Northern Voice:

  • define blogging better than just listing its features. That said, everybody has their own definition. I went witha features listing since they're fairly well agreed upon.
  • do not give legal advice! We'll have to go to the tape, but I might have told someone to sue someone else who was getting high rank for her name and saying nasty stuff. Not doing that next time.
  • do more run-throughs, with a small audience to feed back. Not a big deal in this case, but it'll be important to present well in my future, and I'd like to get into the habit of practicing in front of people instead of in front of my TV screen.

How to Get Comments On Your Blog

As for the content of the presentation, I flubbed an question that I had a good answer to. Someone asked about how to get comments, and my unsatisfactory-to-me answer was to "comment on your own post". I still think it's legitimate, since it's more elegant than typing "Update:" and gives you a timestamp in the database (and with some systems, you get an RSS feed for comments). My other reasoning for doing it is that I tend to click on a link that says "1 comment" more often than one that says "0 comments", so it's a sneaky way to get your view count up. The best way to get comments, though, is to write a full blog post, but afterwards cut out the last paragraph of your post, save it somewhere else for later, and let one of your readers say it. That lets people fill in the blank you left, and if they're mistaken or you need to add something, then you can paste back in your conclusion as a response in the comments. Blogging is not a monologue.

What I Was Happy About

During the run-throughs all by my lonesome at my apartment, it became clear that I needed something to do with my hands. Last year I stuck them in my pocket, but this year, with good presentation software, I realized I could use the cool little remote that came with my MacBook. Not just as something to push slides ahead—a little awkwardly, since my computer was beside me and not in front of me—but it would keep my hands occupied just enough not to distract from the overall performance.

My slides with only one or two words on each. I used them not because I knew it was a best-practice (I either didn't know it, forgot it, or internalized it: Jeffrey Keefer reminded me of Seth Godin's tips after having attended my presentation), but because after reading from the screen during last year's presentation, I wanted reminders to talk about what I knew really well already, not a script. Karen suggested I did it because I liked other, good presentations that did it, and she's absolutely right. I'm glad I didn't go with stunning photos. That would have been too much work.

I took off my sweater and felt okay about wearing a t-shirt from work. It turned into a short conversation piece when one of the audience members asked what was on it, I think believing I was supporting a certain American elected official.
If I hadn't taken my sweater off, I would have over-heated, contributing to a vicious cycle of nervousness. Instead I sacrificed a little class for a little calm, and I'd do the same thing over again.

What I Did Before Presenting Blogging 101 at Northern Voice

Here's a list of things I did on my computer before attaching the overhead projector to my MacBook. They're by no means best-practices, but they were in response to presentations I've seen before.

  • Closed all email, instant messaging, RSS reader, and anything else that might bounce on the dock or send a Growl notification to the screen. At least two presenters either forgot to do this or left them on intentionally. Distracting! The only two applications that were open were the ones absolutely necessary to the success of the presentation: Keynote and Firefox.
  • Pre-loaded all my websites I was going to show in browser tabs. It's better than typing in URLs and waiting for stuff to load, assuming you can get reliable speeds at a conference were a dozen people are already uploading their photographs.
  • Disabled the Bookmark Toolbar, which has links to sensitive information. I didn't need it, otherwise I mis-click and give access to everybody in the room and watching online to my work areas.
  • Deleted the browser URL history. Everybody has a URL or two that they're ashamed of. And if you're not, you're lying.
  • The night before, I cleared my desktop of icon clutter. Nobody needs to know that I download The Wire via BitTorrent. Rather, nobody needs proof.
  • Just before presenting, I tested that the presentation software (Keynote) will display the right thing in the right screen. I used someone else's presentation to make sure that the presenter's notes showed on my laptop screen and not the projector. For this I was lucky I was the first presenter, so I had time to do that. You might not have that luxury.

Forthcoming are what I think I did right during the presentation as well as what I could have done better or forgot to do.

My presentation slides from Northern Voice 2008's Blogging 101
They're not terribly informative, intentionally. I got as far as "Podcasting" and ran out of time before getting to "The Future!", which was to plug some emerging technologies helping bloggers.
Christine was interested to hear me say that sending people away made them come back to your blog
I don't have any stats to back up the claim, but links are golden in blogs, and I wanted to make sure that new bloggers came away with the idea that it was normal to link to others.
Jeffrey Keefer comments on my Blogging 101 talk
He appreciated the one-word slides. I used them as reminders for myself and for terms the audience could look up to get more information.