A few short months ago, I attended the WebVisions conference in Portland Oregon. After two intensive days of workshops and lectures, Jeffrey Veen was scheduled to give the closing keynote concerning “data visualization”. By this point, I must admit that I was feeling exhausted and at the point of saturation. As Veen entered the room, I snuck a quick look at my watch. It was going to take a lot to get my attention.
His keynote would become the highlight of an already spectacular conference.
Now… I don’t want to give away too much in case he decides to visit some of the same topics at HighEdWeb. Instead, I would like to highlight some of the qualities that make Veen a great presenter:
Being an expert in his field
Some people are great speakers. Others are experts, truly respected in their chosen profession. Veen turns out to be both. He is a designer, an author, and an entrepreneur. Over his career, he has helped to shape many of web sites and applications that I know and love. These include HotWired, HotBot, Lycos, Blogger, TypePad, Flickr, Google Analytics and more.
Including great examples
Data visualization is a really interesting topic. It is also a topic that people have a difficulty being interested in. For the keynote, he used examples to illustrate the sources of his inspiration. From Napoleon’s disastrous campaign of 1812 to Indiana Jones’ flight across the Atlantic, the audience was led on a journey that we could easily connect to.
Delivering it all with humor
Perhaps, the best part of the keynote was simply in its delivery. How do you inject humor into a talk on data visualization? I have no idea – and yet, there were times during the keynote that I found myself laughing out loud. This alone might be why he is such an internationally sought after speaker.
…but don’t just take my word for it. Here are a few resources to help you get to know Jeffery Veen a little better:
- Read his bio at Adaptive Path
- Check out one of his books like HotWired Style or The Art & Science of Web Design
- Subscribe to his blog – www.veen.com/jeff/