Lessons Learned About Presenting by Being a Presenter

Public speaking was a skill I consider important and continue to struggle with as I do more presenting. ; During my mid-twenties working full-time and going to school helped shape how I viewed classroom learned concepts and skills and applying them in the real-world. ; Throughout my career I have been fortunate enough to present to various audience sizes from internal meetings to national conferences.

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Sometimes it is easier for me to learn a better way to do something by talking about how I have it done wrong. ; Heres a few ways I turn anti-patterns of presenting on their head.

Target your audience; focus on the masses. ; Last year I presented the WCF Quickstart at DODN 2009. ; I know a lot about WCF but my weakness is that the context I used WCF in was different than what most people will see. ; I was in a SOA/Event-Driven/Data Sharing world. ; Most people need web services because someone told them using a web service for data access was more secure. ; The SOA people in the audience connected, but I lost others. ; Target the masses and call out the smaller communities to ask questions or point out where they might benefit.

Favor simple examples to illustrate concepts over full-blown systems. ; When you think about presenting it's a dream to think you could design a full-functioning app to illustrate concepts. ; But it's just a dream. ; The problem with using full-functioning apps is that the concepts can be lost in the details of how the app is constructed. ; My biggest gripe about presentations is that the examples aren't enough, but there's a reason. ; To be really effective the example and your presentation should help people take the concept to a higher level.

Build a portfolio of presentations and tweak them as technology changes. ; My favorite speakers all have a portfolio of presentations they deliver. ; As tech changes these speakers update their content/examples. ; This helps speakers to really own the material and keep it fresh. It also makes it really easy to submit speaker applications because everything is ready to go.

Dont be afraid to improvise and engage the audience. ; At the NIEM NTE I was scheduled for two back-to-back sessions. ; The first was a split presentation on .NET & NIEM. ; The second was on NIEM, SOA, and EDA. ; By the time I got out of the .NET presentation and to the SOA presentation my adrenaline was up and I rushed through the SOA presentation. ; There we're about 30 minutes left so I hit the floor for questions. ; The discussion that ensued was much more interesting than my presentation. ; That is not what I planned for but it worked. ; Audiences don't always want to be talked to; sometimes they want a little conversation.

Be you. ; When you stand in front of yourself you open yourself up. ; People know when your heart is not with it. ; Talk about stuff you're passionate about and let that passion come out.

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