Show&Tell Talk Instructions « 2018 Quantified Self Conference

Quantified Self Global Conference 2018
Show&Tell Talk Instructions


All of the Quantified Self talks are delivered by attendees like yourself. We are an enthusiastic group of experimenters, tool makers and learners. Our main method for knowledge dissemination is the Show&Tell talks. If this is your first Show&Tell talk at a QS Conference, there are restrictions on the type of slides that can be used that are very important to take note of. If you have given a talk before, the format has changed significantly. We no longer use auto-advancing slides. We now have your slides focus on the data. In either case, it’s important to fully understand the format, so please read the rest of this message for some logistics and resources.


We no longer use auto-advancing slides. Instead, we want your slides to focus on the good stuff about your project and leave out the fluff.

We do this by restricting slide types to just a few. In addition to your intro and outro slide, these are the allowed types of slides:
-Data visualizations
-Data tables
-Statements that involve personal data. (e.g. “Over the course of three years, I journaled 723 times.)
-Screenshots or pictures of the self-tracking tool that was used.
-Pictures of yourself while tracking. If you are tracking your marathon running, that would be a picture during practice or race day. If your project involves eeg, that would be a picture of you with electrodes attached to your scalp. Whatever helps us understand how the data was collected.
-The only bulleted text that is allowed is the “what I learned” slide.

Things that should not go on your slides:
-stock photography,
-quotes (you can still recite a quote in your talk. If the quote is hard to understand if it’s only heard verbally, it may not be a good fit),
-bulleted text (the exception being your “What I learned” slide),
-a logo that in the right corner of each slide.

Here is what we really want to know: What did you do; How did you do it; What did you learn?. The most important part is: What you learned. Make sure this takes up at least 90 seconds of your talk. We really want our audience to learn from your personal story of self-tracking, self-experimentation, and self-transformation.


I’ve helped hundreds of speakers put together their Show&Tell talks for various QS events. Here are the pieces of advice I most often give to speakers during our practices:

  1. Pay attention to the format. Read the format section above.
  2. Write it out first. Make a 30-point list and write out exactly what you want to say, or at the very least, a brief outline of what you want to say. This helps you think about what you’re going to talk about, but it also provides a great basis for developing your slides.
  3. Practice your talk. You can practice your talk 8 times in an hour. (That should be plenty of practice!) Seriously, arrive at the meetup without having read your talk to somebody beforehand.
  4. Go slow! Don’t think you have to speak fast. It is not a race. Edit your talk rather than speed up your delivery. It’s better to say fewer things well rather than talking about many things quickly.
  5. Establish the “why”: The beginning of the talk should establish why you started tracking.
  6. Focus on your story. A good Show&Tell talk is grounded in lessons learned from personal data collection. Make sure that you’re highlighting what you’ve done with your self-tracking and/or self-experimentation. 
  7. Make good use of Charts:
    1. Make sure the axes are labeled clearly (remember, people are listening to you as they are looking at the slides, so make their job of understanding the talk as easy as possible).
    2. Rather than have the Title Text above the Chart be a traditional title, make the Title Text be the takeaway of what the chart showed or taught you. So, instead of Number of steps per day of week, it would be I walk way more on the weekends.
    3. Make sure that text is big enough to be readable. It’s probably best not to go below 40 point.
    4. Use annotations to point to interesting areas of the chart.
  8. Keep it grounded: Take the time to explain how you collected the data. For example,  did you record the event on your phone in the moment? Did you wait until the night and record it in a paper journal that you entered into a spreadsheet during the weekend? People should be able to visualize how the data is collected.
  9. Specialist Vocabulary: Be careful about which terms you use. If it’s not a widely known term, you need to explain it. Otherwise, it makes your talk a lot less understandable and enjoyable. This does take time, so ask yourself, how does the audience knowing this term help them understand the rest of the talk?
  10. Sequencing: Our own stories are so complex. Often, there seems to be a lot that you have to explain so that someone who hasn’t had all of your experiences can understand your project. When establishing any idea or contextual information, think carefully about how it helps people understand some later part of the talk. If the idea isn’t crucial to helping understand the rest of the talk, it may be good to leave it out.
  11. Keep the “What I Learned” personal: When talking about what you learned, use “I” rather than “you” statements. For example, instead of “Tracking steps makes you more mindful about your activity level” it should be “Tracking steps made me more mindful about my activity level.”
  12. Contact Info: Your last slide should be how about people can contact you, follow you on Twitter or learn more about your self-tracking project. We are all about fostering connections and the more ways people can get a hold of you the better.
  13. Be honest: No one expects you to be an expert on the thing you are tracking. Just be an expert on your own experience. People want to hear your story. The more honest and vulnerable you are, the better it will work. Remember that you are talking to your peers. You don’t need to be fancy or theatrical. We want to know who you are and what you are working on. Just tell us, and we will love your talk.


We will run the presentation off of our own laptop (Macbook Pro running macOS Sierra). We will accept presentations in either Keynote or PowerPoint. Please use the 16:9 aspect ratio for your slides.

In Powerpoint 2013 and later, the default aspect ratio is 16:9. If you are using an earlier version of Powerpoint, the default is 4:3. Here are instructions on how to change the aspect ratio.

If you are using a non-standard font, please send the font files along with your slides.



Are these going to be auto-advancing slides like at earlier conferences?

No. That format had its benefits, but we feel like going forward, it’s better that we focus the slides on the data and tools.

Can I really say what I need to in 7.5 minutes?

Yes, but first you have to decide what you need to say. Focus on what the main idea is. Then use details that support that main idea. If something is interesting but doesn’t support the main idea, leave it out. It’s hard to do, but it helps people focus on the main idea of your talk.
TIP: If there is a detail that I left out of my talk, I’ve found it easy to shoehorn into an answer during the Q&A period.

How can I be sure my talk is working?

We want to take an active role in helping you give the best talk possible. Therefore, we are requiring that all speakers send in their slides and schedule a practice talk.

What aspect ratio is the projector using?

All slides should be 16:9.

My presentation is too big and gmail won’t send it.

WeTransfer is a good tool for sending large files. Or you can share the file in Dropbox to

I have a question not addressed here.

Other questions can go to Steven Jonas: