May 6, 2015 by Kenneth Fisher
As you may know I’m preparing to write my first presentation. I have a great abstract and an outline of the presentation itself. Next step is creating the Powerpoint slides. Then practicing the presentation itself. So while going to my latest SQL Saturday I decided to take the opportunity to take some notes on the presentations I was seeing. Not on the information itself (although I did that too) but on how they were given. What I particularly liked and what I thought I would like to emulate. I also saw a few things I wanted to avoid.
Some of this also comes from previous conversations/reading about presentation best practices. And in the interest of completeness I’ve also gone through a few of Grant Fritchey’s (b/t) Speaker of the Month series for an additional point of view.
- Having a summary and or course objectives at the beginning is a good way to start the presentation but make sure you follow it.
- Follow up with a review at the end. If you don’t have time it can always be cut.
- Use Zoomit, large font, something. Demos aren’t nearly as much fun if I can’t read what you have typed from the middle of a small room.
- Using both appeared to work the best. Large fonts let me follow along generally, Zoomit for emphasis or for GUI stuff that doesn’t have the larger font.
- Having a video of a demo play in the background while you talk is pretty cool. Maybe not the whole time (although I’ve seen that done too) but for a short period of time it can be a great emphasis to what you are talking about.
- Demos (even if you are going to type them in) should be smooth. Problems happen but minimize them.
- I’m not going to go so far as don’t ever type. Sometimes the typing is part of the demo itself (intellisense), however don’t type if you don’t have to.
- Some demo’s don’t have a lot of typing in them (GUIs) but if so they should well practiced so you can run them smoothly.
- If you have a demo that runs a long time have something else to do while you wait.
- I’m going to go against popular practice here and say I like slides with more information on them. Don’t read the slides. But next week when I’m looking at the slides I want them to mean something.
- That doesn’t mean the slides should be busy. Simple is better.
- BIG font for main points, small fonts for stuff for everyone to read later.
- If you can make them laugh while giving information it’s a plus.
- Don’t go overboard though. If all they are doing is laughing they probably aren’t learning anything.
- No question or comment is bad but learn how to deflect questions/comments that run long/don’t pertain to your presentation.
- Use a mike or speak up. People came to the session to hear you speak. It would be a shame if they couldn’t.
- Repeat questions. It can be hard for everyone in the room to hear. Remember you have the mike.
- When answering questions “I don’t know” is ok. But “Great question. I don’t know the answer to that right now but I’ll figure it out and blog/post about it later” is better.
- If you have a small group that just means you can be more interactive.
- Presentation remotes/laser pointers are nice, they let you walk around while giving your presentation.
- If you can arrange to have someone who knows the subject really well show up in your session it can be fun. It’s also nice if someone asks a question that stumps you. They may be able to answer the question for you.
- Be Excited! It’s fun to watch someone be excited about a subject.
- Prizes are popular even if it’s just candy.
I’d love to hear your opinions on this list. If you are a presenter I’d like to hear what you feel works and what doesn’t. And presenter or not what would you like to see in a presenter?