Presenting is storytelling at University of Zurich (2012 lecture)

Some months ago I give my annual lecture on Presenting is storytelling at the University of Zurich. This has always be a nice experience for me, and this year was no different.

Although the main message remained steady over the years, every time is somewhat different thanks to the students.

One thing that I noticed last year was that students do not expect presentations to equal bullet points anymore. It used to be the case, but not anymore. Something has changed and that is good.

As a consequence, this year I started directly with delivering a quick 10 minutes presentation about humane assessment. At the end of the presentation, I asked three questions:

  • First, I asked what they understood from the quick overview. They said that it is an activity for software engineers and it is important.
  • Then, I asked what they missed, and everyone agreed that it was too abstract, and that they did not really feel what I was talking about.
  • And at last, I asked if they believed I was convinced of what I was talking about, regardless of wether they felt like they understood or not. They all said yes.

And this is the point. In 10 minutes, the most I could hope for is for them to precisely remember that assessment is an important enough of a software engineering activity to deserve a dedicated name. That was my message. My one message.

To make it stick, I wrapped it in a little visual story. While the visual could have captured the attention, it is the story that did the actual work.

And this leads me to the main message of the lecture: presenting is storytelling.

Next year, I will be giving the another lecture on the same topic. The story will likely be different, but the message will be the same.

Posted by Tudor Girba at 9 December 2012, 8:46 am link