The talk before the talk

Today I visited Yahoo New York, and gave a talk there. It was simultaneously broadcast to their other campus, so even though there were only about twenty of us in a little conference room, it might actually have been seen by about 150 people altogether.

Usually when I visit a company, I first give a talk and then meet with people. But this time they arranged it the other way, with my talk coming at the end of the visit.

Presumably this was because we were in NY, whereas the other campus is in California. Our afternoon lines up with their morning.

And that turned out to be a really great thing. As I spoke with different research groups, I kept modifying my talk, dropping a few slides here, adding some images there, to align with my emerging understanding of our common research interests.

By the time I gave the actual presentation, I was able to directly address very good questions that had come up in conversation only earlier that day. Which is really what everyone wanted out of the visit.

It’s so much better this way. There shouldn’t be a talk before everyone has had a chance to talk.

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