Staying out of the Keynote rut

It’s really easy to prolong the preparation of a talk by noodling around in Keynote. You feel like you’re making progress… but it’s a dangerous illusion.

What works for me is to use stickies (surprise!). Each stickie represents an idea, which then gets split into slides as the idea is developed into talking points. Dump ideas, shuffle them around, run through the flow, repeat.

And stay out of Keynote until the flow is rock solid!

Starting a Keynote file with only a vague sense of what you’re going to talk about is diving head-first into a frustrating rabbit hole, where panic mounts as the date gets closer.

Photos are a behind-the-scenes look at preparing for our talk at RTL: 

Talking about chat bots at Ride the Lightning vol. 24

So, this is where the stickies ended up. There’s a loose color system to indicate section breaks, and assignments on who would take which parts. It’s pretty unimpressive, I know, but this moment comes with the confidence to give a talk without looking for words.

After this, we dove into slide production mode for a few hours and gave the talk. No dress rehearsal.

It was the first time I’d done it with a co-speaker but I found it worked especially well in this case because we were equally familiar and comfortable with the general flow. It allowed for smooth transitions, a few adlibs, and we were able to give a 30min talk that felt natural and conversational. 

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