I gave a lightning talk earlier this month to the PyData Atlanta Meetup. I’ve given hour-long talks on technical subjects before, but I hadn’t done anything quite that concise before. This fact freaked me out quite a bit. I wanted to reflect a bit on why it’s always a good idea to communicate more what you do.
No matter how mundane or “been done before” you believe your work is, there’s value in showing it to others because some people will learn from it. In machine learning, some methods are designed to try all possible permutations of a set of options to choose the one with the best performance. As the complexity of a model about your data grows, inevitably this tree search method breaks down and you need to apply some heuristics to the problem. What people don’t mention is that these heuristics can come from anywhere, whether it’s a research paper, a book, a mentor, or even a five minute talk you saw on a Thursday night.
Like any good person who over-prepares for things, I read up a bit on it which helped me come to this conclusion (and that helped me think through public speaking in general). Here are some resources:
- Some helpful tips from Time.com (including a quote from Woodrow Wilson that is one of my favorites)
- Tim Urban’s post on giving talks (related to the Ted Talk he gave)
- I’ve found both of Austin Kleon’s books inspiring for any situation where I need let other folks know what I’m working on as they really help you feel less like an impostor and feel better about showing others what you do
Oh yeah. I think my talk went pretty well. Here’s a link to my Google Drive slides or a PDF copy. If you’d like to chat about data or about my work, feel free to reach out to me via email or on Twitter.