Presenter Guidelines

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Code4Lib is a meeting with "no spectators" <ref>Roy Tennant channeling Dan Chudnov on the code4libcon mailing list</ref>. As such everyone is expected to actively participate in the meeting one way or another. See What To Expect at for an idea of how the meeting runs. Declan Fleming has also started a list of suggestions on the How to hack code4lib page.

Types of Talks

There are two types of talks at Code4Lib conferences: 20-minute prepared talks and 5-minute lightning talks. The only difference between the two, aside from the length of the talk, is how they are selected. Prepared talks are proposed in the months prior to the conference, voted on by the Code4Lib community, and slotted into specific times during the conference. Lightning talks are announced on the day of the conference and are first-come/first-serve.

There are other ways to participate in the meeting: breakout sessions, hallway conversations, and certainly the bar. Discussion of other avenues or techniques are welcome on the Code4LibCon group. Got a suggestion on how not to be a spectator? -- let the community know!

Selecting a Topic

Topics at Code4Lib tend to be practical and instructional in nature. The more raw code, the better. See what has been proposed previously and the video of past talks to get an idea of what works for the meeting participants. Code4Lib encourages talks to be inclusive of all of the library types. While not true of all topics, most presentations have applications in more than one library type.

Visual Aids

It is now increasingly the case that audiences assess the technical quality of what you say, not only by what is in your presentation, but also by the effectiveness of your visual aids. Someone who has prepared carefully for the session will come across more effectively and make a better impression.

A few "Do's and Don'ts" guidelines:

  • Do use a title or introductory slide. Have this slide on the screen as attendees enter the room. If there are two distinct presentations, make sure they are on the same computer and have the same introductory slide on both PPT files.
  • Do use a summary slide or two at the end -- one for major conclusions and another for recommendations.
  • Don't plan on more than about one slide per minute of your talk. (There can be exceptions if you talk to and instruct from a particularly important slide.) Limit each slide to one main idea. If you have more than 50 slides, your presentation may be too long.
  • Don't copy all or a large part of a printed (or typed) page. Cut out or copy just the excerpt you need to use and arrange it on a page with other graphics or personal lettering for proper highlight or emphasis.
  • Do keep it simple. Don't try to put too much information on one slide. Limit the number of words on each slide.
  • Don't use long columns, figures or big tabulations. Include these items in handouts.
  • Do use capital and lower case letters. Make limited use of ALL CAPS as it is difficult to read.
  • Don't use dark or solid background for your handout slides. Dark or solid background tend to create printing problems, especially for people using inkjet printers. You may use a different background for the slides used during the presentation.
  • Do use a large font size (24 point, minimum).
  • Please be considerate to the people in the audience by NOT placing important information on the bottom 25% of the slide. Some people may not be able to see it from the seats in the rear of the room.

The Backchannel

There will be at least one "backchannel" during the conference: the IRC channel. There may be multiple public backchannels on Twitter or private backchannels on IRC, IM, or other services. High-profile examples of unkind behavior in backchannels highlight the bad impacts of this, but there are also examples of how the backchannel can benefit the audience and the speaker. On the one hand, Code4Lib as a self-policing community can use peer pressure to ensure the backchannel doesn't get out of control. On the other hand, as a presenter you can be aware of and embrace the backchannel.

Unlike other events, the meeting organizers are not planning a public display of the backchannel(s) behind the speaker during presentations. The backchannel may be displayed during breaks and/or in the lobby. Plans are being made to make public logs of the #code4lib IRC channel during the meeting. The conference organizers also recommend using the tag "#c4l10" in Twitter and other social media postings.


<ref>Some of this text is ripped off from the Innovative Users Group presenter guidelines, which the original author of this wiki page wrote many moons ago.</ref>