Speaking online

I really, really missed speaking at conferences in 2020. I managed to squeeze in just one meatspace presentation before everything shut down. That was in Nottingham, where myself and Remy reprised our double-bill talk, How We Built The World Wide Web In Five Days.

That was pretty much all the travelling I did in 2020, apart from a joyous jaunt to Galway to celebrate my birthday shortly before the Nottingham trip. It’s kind of hilarious to look at a map of the entirety of my travel in 2020 compared to previous years.

Mind you, one of my goals for 2020 was to reduce my carbon footprint. Mission well and truly accomplished there.

But even when travel was out of the question, conference speaking wasn’t entirely off the table. I gave a brand new talk at An Event Apart Online Together: Front-End Focus in August. It was called Design Principles For The Web and I’ve just published a transcript of the presentation. I’m really pleased with how it turned out and I think it works okay as an article as well as a talk. Have a read and see what you think (or you can listen to the audio if you prefer).

Giving a talk online is …weird. It’s very different from public speaking. The public is theoretically there but you feel like you’re just talking at your computer screen. If anything, it’s more like recording a podcast than giving a talk.

Luckily for me, I like recording podcasts. So I’m going to be doing a new online talk this year. It will be at An Event Apart’s Spring Summit which runs from April 19th to 21st. Tickets are available now.

I have a pretty good idea what I’m going to talk about. Web stuff, obviously, but maybe a big picture overview this time: the past, present, and future of the web.

Time to prepare a conference talk.

Have you published a response to this? :


Matthias Ott

“Giving a talk online is …weird. It’s very different from public speaking. The public is theoretically there but you feel like you’re just talking at your computer screen.” ⁩ I feel you, ⁦@adactio⁩. Running workshops online feels different, too. adactio.com/journal/17734

Frank Rausch

Teaching design works alright IMO (as long as students don’t get distracted, which is hard to tell). I see little value in streaming a live talk though. I prerecorded my only 2020 conference talk, with live Q&A. Much more work but much higher production quality.

Matthias Ott

Yes, I ran my interface prototyping seminar via zoom this semester, too. :) It works fairly well if you manage to keep it interactive and engaging. The same goes for workshops – although you are still talking into a camera, which feels different.

Nico ☕️

Totally depends on the audience. But I gave one full week workshop to a group of black screens with muted mics - which was my worst remote workshop experience.

# Posted by Nico ☕️ on Monday, January 4th, 2021 at 10:35pm

Matthias Ott

Oh yes! 🙈 The more people are on video the better. And the audience and if you’re getting into a conversation makes all the difference.


Working on online meetings this is may be one of the most annoying yet overlooked issues - hoping to spend some cycles on non a/v related presence and participation in Microsoft teams meetings this quarter.

# Posted by Dominic on Monday, January 4th, 2021 at 11:36pm

Previously on this day

4 years ago I wrote Contact

Inner space, outer space.

6 years ago I wrote Soundcloudbusting

Podcast. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

12 years ago I wrote The Rise of HTML5

All the cool kids are doing it.

17 years ago I wrote See you on the beach

My holiday time here in Arizona is coming to an end.

19 years ago I wrote Greetings from Seattle

I am now further west than I have ever been in my life.