Nerd Nite!

Hi all. I just want to say how proud I am of myself for having a super successful Nerd Nite talk on Tuesday. I am going to toot my own horn. It was great. People were engaged. People asked thoughtful questions. And, I got applause from answering those questions thoughtfully. I am so pleased.

As I wrote before, I really forced myself to go through a clear, detailed planning process. It paid off. I promise you that the work is worth it. Starting from scratch, even if you’ve done it before, is fully worth it.

I wanted to share my slide deck (pdf). It makes no sense without me talking over it, however, I would be happy to talk you through it. I’m also proud of how beautiful it is. Mega credits to my incomparable Beaty Museum team for the photos, which are available to all through a creative commons license.


If anyone knows how to embed a pdf or google slides directly in wordpress, it would be much appreciated.


Planning Talks

So I am fortunate enough to be invited to speak at Nerd Nite Vancouver again. I am super excited. Different venue from before, newer crowd, and new topic.

I wanted to take the time to show my planning process. In a previous post, I went through my recommended planning strategy, and often friends ask me: do you really do that? Short answer, yes.
Long answer, mostly. Every talk is different and needs different things. Sometimes I can skip steps because I’ve already done the work, or someone else has. But, this time, I’m forcing myself to do every step. 

It’s worth it. The photo is what I’m up to, right now. I’m getting in touch with my audience (two beers in… loud space). I’m drawing my slides out one by one.

And you know what? I feel really creative. 

Working with Visitors with Visual Impairment

I’ve been working hard towards making our museum an inclusive space for all ages, backgrounds, identities, and abilities. I think the one that takes the most effort, for me at least, is abilities, especially visual impairments.

The museum space is very visual. Most of the collection is behind cabinets, safely stored, but away from visitors. There is myriad information available, but as books or labels. So, this does not lend well for visitors with visual impairments to explore the space on their own. Kind of a bummer. But, I love a challenge so I am determined to figure it out.

So, when we were asked to bring in a group led by someone with a visual impairment, I got really excited. Details on this project in a future blog post!

The outcome itself will be great, but the process was more important to me. Here are some of the things I took away from the experience:

  • Be careful with your language. Ask questions, but shift the way you describe or ask things to avoid the usual visual details.
  • Extra specific descriptions are helpful, think about relative sizes, etc.
  • Plan on spending extra time coaching gentle specimen handling and having a conversation.
  • If possible, give a mini tour to orient them to the space so they are empowered to find key areas.
  • Our timeline, lab, and tree cookie worked really well.
  • The element of surprise is super fun to use when bringing out specimens.
  • Know your facts well as you share them, don’t be afraid to look something up quickly.
  • Expect different questions than you’d usually get.
  • Add better descriptive captions to photos.
  • Where possible, add audio, smell, tactile elements along with visuals.
  • Find and use online resources like The Incluseum or CNIB.

I really enjoyed my time working on this. It will always take effort to be inclusive and accessible, but it is well worth the effort.

What are your experiences working with different audiences? Do you have tips? Disagree with me or want to add something? Add it to the comments…