submissions for LCA and other conferences

In this post I recommended that job seekers not publish their CV. In a comment Gunnar suggested having a special CV for conferences. I think that Gunnar’s idea is good and have started writing my conference CV at When I complete it I will make it part of every submission for speaking at a conference.

The LCA 2008 call for presentations is now open. One of the most interesting, noteworthy, and slightly controversial items is the suggestion that people submit a video. I think that the video submission is a great idea, either a video or testimony from audience members from past presentations should be required for all submissions (NB I’m not involved with organising LCA2008 so my opinion means little in this regard). The reason is that I have attended many presentations which fell far short of their potential due to poor speaking skills. I’ve been to great presentations by people with strong accents, by people with speech impediments, by people who are incredibly shy, and by people who just don’t have a clue about public speaking. However my observation is that if a speaker has more than one of these disadvantages then the presentation is likely to fail. I have previously written at length about how to give a good presentation to a technical audience (such as is found at LCA).

Dave Hall blogs about Should I do a presentation at LCA 2008. He mentions lack of a web-cam as a disincentive, but I am happy to lend him my digital camera (which makes really high quality movies) to solve this problem. In fact I have considered recording some short Linux talks at the SGI office during lunch breaks (Dave and I both work for SGI).

Dave also mentions a nightmare scenario about a laptop not working with presentation hardware. My post about getting laptops working for presentations will hopefully help some people in this regard.

I’m not sure if I’ll make an offer for LCA this year, I haven’t been doing much cutting-edge work recently. Maybe I’ll just offer some talks for mini-confs, I could probably get several offers accepted by mini-conf organisers if I try.

2 comments to submissions for LCA and other conferences

  • Russell – you do give good talks. However – I think they would be much much better if you slowed down your delivery. You speak so fast you swallow the middle of your words. If you were an actor, I would encourage you to practice as though you had a mouthful of marbles, or were speaking under water.

  • etbe

    Speaking too fast is a constant problem for me when giving talks. It’s easier when giving an introductory talk about something I know well as I don’t need to think much about what I am saying. But when the content requires my full concentration it’s difficult to control the speed.

    I expect that speaking too fast could be considered as either an accent or a speech impediment issue and thus qualifies me for one of the factors that can make a presentation fail. I believe that I do well on the other criteria though so generally the overall result is good.