inessential by Brent Simmons

On Not Doing Prepared Talks Any More

Some time last year I decided to retire from doing prepared talks at conferences.

I’ve been doing them for 15 years, and I’ve enjoyed some of them. Eventually I started playing with the form, and that was kind of fun.

The best talks I ever did usually had some story-telling parts, and those turned out to be the parts that people liked most. The only problem with that is that my stories usually didn’t have anything to do with the conference. I just like telling stories. Stories about raccoons and squirrels. :)

Preparing a talk is a lot of work, and my standards for my talks kept going up, which meant ever more preparation, and more stress — and since I didn’t love it, I decided to stop.

I don’t mind being in front of an audience, though — I’ll emcee, appear on a panel, moderate a panel, or play in a Breakpoints Jam.

But the actual talks from me are over.

Here’s the thing, though: this means one less middle-aged white man taking up a slot. This is a good thing. If you were thinking of asking me to do a prepared talk at your conference, instead ask someone who doesn’t look like me.

And if you’re having trouble finding someone, just ask me and I’ll help.