How I Measured This Talk
heart rate / cardiovascular | stress
Bill Schuller is the organizer of the QS Dallas Meetup. He has given a lot of talks about tracking; however, he isn't satisfied with his talks. So like any good self-tracker, he set out to see what he could learn from tracking and measuring his talk. In this talk, Bill presents some of the tools he uses in real-time to measure himself and the audience.
Bulletproof HRV Sense | Polar
Hi, I’m Bill Schuller. I’m the organizer of the Dallas area meetup group and I am completely terrified right now. I’m terrified that I’m going to forget some witty comments that I spent a lot of time putting together. I’m terrified that this automatic slide turning is going to totally screw me up. I’m terrified that you’re going to leave my talk disappointed.
I don’t like public speaking but I want to be better. The terror doesn’t necessarily stop me. I’ve given lots of disjointed QS talks over the years almost exclusively to audiences that I’m not familiar with, and when I’m travelling I’ll meet with that group..
In my professional life I do quite a lot of presentations and talks and have to distribute information to lots of people. So, I have a lot of motivation to kind of overcome this and make it better, and make myself a better speaker. And this talk is literally about this talk. I started with a much broader idea of how I could improve this, and eventually narrowed it down to I’ve got to be able to deliver the same talk consistently and control for the talk that I’m delivering, so that I can sus out audience size and venue and the way that I’m delivering the talk effect. And what I’m really after is, is it just practice or can I find some shortcuts, and which shortcuts are working for me and which are not.
I settled on this after initially I’m an engineer. I’m a professional specialty complex integrated systems, so I jumped right into creating a framework that would evaluate every single presentation that I gave so I could have a broader understanding of telephone delivery, video delivery, in person delivery around the conference table and then I realized that that would suck up more time then I would have to actually stop practicing speaking. So I settled on this constraint of delivering this talk and measuring it to see what reduces my anxiety most effectively.
Now is a pretty good time to point out to what this very inconspicuous thing on my head is. It is the world’s least comfortable, single channel, consumer grade EEG headset from Neurosky. It does give me the full range of brainwaves but also gives a direct measurement of tension and meditation which I’m hoping is going to give me a good idea of how focused am I during the talk.
I’m also wearing a Bluetooth heartrate strap from Polar, and I’ve got that connected to an iOS app called Bulletproof HRV Sense, which measures heartrate and heartrate variability and also gives a derivative value of stress measurement 1 to 5.
Both of these tools could be a lot more convenient and user friendly, but they do work and I had all the gear and that’s what I’ve been using to measure my anxiety and focus during these talks. I also am recording video from my perspective as well as video from the audience’s perspective so I can go back and count how many times I said um and look at the physicality of my performance and understand more about these talks in retrospect.
I’m also quantifying a lot of metadata about the talk, so I’ll record of how many people are here today and what the venue was like and if it was an in-person delivery, and a little bit later I’ll ask you to help me quantify my performance and give your opinion of how well I did.
I’m using a product called QuickBase from my employer InTuiT, to capture that information.
So far I’ve stopped tallying. I still have record but stopped tallying my practices. I got really great feedback from my mother in law. She thinks I do a great job every time at all my practice sessions and I’m happy with the feedback I’m getting so far in the deliveries that I’ve done.
I’m about three quarters of the way through my actual delivery of the talk to a live audience, and here’s some of the data. I haven’t been able to cut through the noise and get actual signal out of this EEG headset. There’s tons of variability but nothing associated with the beginning, end, or middle of the talk. But here’s some of my heartrate and stress information which I also have some difficulty actually extracting from the application sometimes.
The left hand graph is my first talk at Mountain View at the QS meetup there. The right hand talk is what I delivered a couple of weeks ago at the North Dallas QS meetup. The one in the middle is a talk that I attempted to reorganize when no one showed up and I had more measured stress while waiting for that to not happen than I did actually delivering the next talk.
I get tons of feedback from the people who are in the audience, and infact Julie Price who’s here suggested that I deliver my talk to my dog so I could get a non-judgmental audience to practice with. So I went out and got a dog, and I’m not quite sure if he’s judging me or not but he barks a lot at night. So there’s the dog, see the slide timing I told you. This Ignite thing is not for me.
But the feedback has been great. It’s hard for me to decide what I’m going to try in the next talk and I haven’t been very structured about that. But one thing I do know is I need to deliver talk more. I got extremely busy right after that first talk and I was expecting to have done 10 or 20 of these by the time I had here at the culmination of this here at the conference. But I do have another talk scheduled next week so I’m going to continue to do this. And I definitely do need to figure out if there’s any signal in that noise and if there’s not find out what other ways to measure my anxiety and performance during these talks if there are which is best.