Matt Makai - Python web dev & Twilio Developer Evangelist.

@mattmakai on Twitter & GitHub

Favoring Hands On Walkthroughs

Tomorrow I'm giving a talk at EuroPython called Full Stack Python which is named after my Full Stack Python website. I'm stoked to give the talk. I would not have flown thousands of miles from the US if I wasn't excited (ok fine, I also really wanted to see Berlin).

I am noticing a trend though at conferences that's making me think about how I want to approach further events. The trend is the excessive reduction in time for speaking slots. Tomorrow's talk will only be 25 minutes. That's barely enough time to present the Python web application stack topics at a very high level. I've had to rip out much of the best material which has actual code examples and further diagrams to meet the tight time limit.

Many conferences are now shortening talk times to 20 minutes or even 10 minutes. That length is simply not enough time to tell a cohert story, clearly articulate new technical concepts, step through diagrams to visually explain topics and perform a live code demonstration. And that's okay - conference organizers should absolutely do what's best for their audience and event. Many also topics don't need to use all those methods for the audience to learn the subject matter.

Yet lately the topics I'm most interested in require more time to dive into the technical details. Which is why I am beginning to prefer teaching through hands on walkthroughs for the audience in a tutorial session rather than a brief talk. I've found audiences learn more from a hands on walkthrough tutorial even if sessions take correspondingly more time than two or three traditional talks.

For the remainder of 2014 I'll still do the occasional shorter duration technical talk. However, my hypothesis is that I can help audiences learn more about technical subjects through them participating in hands on walkthroughs at tutorial sessions than time crunched technical talks.

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