This week we just had Ryan Zhang present at the Seattle Scalability Meetup. I did a little short presentation just showing some tools that I’ve been using as of late; DataGrip, and related schema migrations and Docker containers as I work through the schema migrations. It was a solid meetup and excellent conversation after meetup, big thanks to everybody who came out to the meetup and joined us for a round of drinks, amazing cheese curds and hummus at Collin’s afterwards! It was a great meetup and looking forward to getting together again on May 28th with Guinevere (@guincodes) presenting “The PR That Wouldn’t Merge“!
In other upcoming events that I’ll be at either presenting or attending. The events I’m attending let’s get talk, I’m always interested in meeting new people and learning about you’re working on, what you’re learning, and where and what efforts are of interest to you. For the events I’m presenting at the same applies, plus I’ll be standing among all the persons and presenting whatever tidbit of knowledge I’ve come to present. Hopefully it’ll be useful and informative for you and we can continue the conversation after the presentation and we all gain more insight, ideas, and ways to move forward more productively with our respective efforts. Here’s a list of the next big meetups and conferences I’m either speaking at or attending, and hope to see and meet many of you dear \m/ readers there!
Ok, so everybody’s presentations don’t suck. But the vast majority of them do. I know I’m not the first person to make this statement. I’d include a list of others who have said it but it would take more space than my entire blog does. Take this example slide deck from a presentation I saw recently. This is the actual color background theme that was chosen, with the wording changed slightly to protect the guilty – for now.
First, let’s tackle this wording. I rephrased it so it has almost the exactly same spacing and word style usage. The initial thing I’ve noticed is how long it takes one to read this. Is the presenter pausing while everyone reads the novel he wrote up on the slide? Nope, he’s blabbering on while everyone is looking at this slide reading it, pondering the huge words that are stuck in the slide. Not until the 4th or 5th sentence the presenter makes does the audience start to re-focus on the presenter. Already, everyone is rather lost in regards to the main topic. This is a major problem.
Don’t even get me started on the horrible decision to use this color scheme on the background. That can’t possibly be something that would allow people to pay attention to the speaker, WHO THE AUDIENCE IS SUPPORT TO BE PAYING ATTENTION TO!!!
In this second slide, it brings up one of the other things that happen way too often in a slide during a presentation. Keep in mind presenters, this is NOT a hand out, it is a slide. It is presented on the wall, behind the speaker usually. Try to read the words on that and imagine listening to someone speak while that is on the wall! Seriously, it makes me ponder buying tomatoes to bring the tradition of throwing tomatoes at bad performers.
What is a Presentation?
Just for a moment let’s talk about what a presentation is. First the technical definition of what a presentation is:
1 a (1) : to bring or introduce into the presence of someone especially of superior rank or status (2) : to introduce socially b : to bring (as a play) before the public
2: to make a gift to
3: to give or bestow formally
4a : to lay (as a charge) before a court as an object of inquiry b : to bring a formal public charge, indictment, presentment against
5: to nominate to a benefice
6 a : to offer to view :show b : to bring to one’s attention
8: to aim, point, or direct (as a weapon) so as to face something or in a particular direction
This gets us a little closer to exactly what it is, but really there is a lot more to presenting and getting to present then this simple definition implies.
Being able to present in front of a group is a chance to provide leadership. It is a chance to provide a vision of an idea, an opportunity to transfer knowledge and passion of a subject, and above all it is a chance to inspire progress and change in a positive way.
It doesn’t matter if the presentation is for a few corporate suits or an audience of revolutionaries. Having a chance to present to people is a chance to do well, to do good for people, and to step above and change things for the better. Presenting is a chance to change some small part of the world for the better, and in some cases maybe change a big part of the world!
Enough Griping and Such, How Does One Present Well?
The question that is left is, how do you put together a good presentation? It’s easier than you might imagine! I’ve actually seen a few recently that were great. The speaker captivated the audience, brought them into the topic, was inclusive and conversational and really left people wanting to know more. One of the first things that leads to a good presentation is one question.
Who cares and why should they?
If that question is not answered, or for some odd reason can’t be answered during the presentation then the presentation is a failure. When putting together a presentation ask yourself the question over and over and over again. Keep the audience in mind too, think about what the audience would ask or answer in regards to the topic.
This one I do NOT kid about. Don’t stick a bunch of stuff all over your slides. If anything, try to do a lot of presenting WITHOUT slides to really make an impact. If you want a prime example of average presentation skills versus good presentation skills, look no further then Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
This video of Steve Jobs shows why he is a master presenter. Building the audience for the three devices they released in 2007 that changed the world…
Not many business leaders, or leaders for that matter, are very good at this. Note his slides. They’re simple, they have a few images or just one or two points each. The idea is, the audience is focusing on him, on what he is discussing, on what he is bringing forth to the world.
Learning to Present
I could go on about great presentations, I could detail every single little point. Maybe I’ll continue this in another blog entry. But for now, I’m going to list a few masterful books on learning how and in which way to make great presentations.
There are more, but these two things will get you started toward good presentations, toward capturing and entertaining your audience. So get material, think and learn about how to be a better presenter! Before you know it you’ll be rocking the audience!
…as an aside. If you’re ever at a user group, conference, or other event that I’m presenting at please call me out on any of these things I fail at. If I lose your attention or have a slow part in my presentation or if my story does not come across clearly. Lay into me, tell me I’ve slipped, messed up, goofed, or butchered the story. I want to know. I want to make sure, whenever I’m presenting that I’m laying out the story, the vision that I’m trying to get across. I want the vision to be there no matter how technical of a deep dive it might be that I’m presenting. So yes, just know I’ve got a thick skin and I want to know!
Thanks, I’m looking forward to seeing you at my next preso!
I’ll be attending OS Bridge (you should attend too, it’s only a few hundred bucks!!) this year. Hopefully I’ll be presenting also but I need everybody’s help! If you would, favorite (with the star) my presentations/workshops. Also leave a note of feedback related to how you’d dig seeing me present! (I’ll owe ya a beer, feel free to call me on it at OS Bridge and the round is on me!)
I’ll be taking a deep dive into cloud architectures and how to build applications, generally at the PaaS level mixed with a little IaaS, to get people rolling with high velocity, high quality, and without the need to worry about the little things.
Want to learn about why PaaS and cloud computing is altering the very fabric of the development cycle? Want to know how to dive in with some abstractions and behavioral practices on the cloud, using PaaS, to bring apps, prototypes, and UX to market faster than anyone else? I’ll be touching on all of these things during this long form session. The sessions will step through these core concepts and ideas.
How to get up and running using cloud computing technologies and specifically to take advantage of PaaS providers.
How to bring UX designs and prototypes into a usable state even faster.
How to bridge that gap between development, test, QA, user acceptance testing, staging, and production (or whatever environments…) without blowing the bank.
How to scale, once the cycle is in place and continuous deployment is ready.
This session will cover the major advances of platform as a service technology, what’s available in the OSS space to enable faster, easier, higher quality software development cycles in the cloud. The session will complete with a demo of PAAS technology in use, deploying a highly scalable, distributed & dispersed web application.
This presentation will show why PAAS is the way of the future for application deployments. Enterprise, small business, and especially startups will want to learn more about the available PAAS OSS technology and also learn about what is coming in the near future.
This presentation will build upon my New Relic Blog Series on “Removing the Operating System Barrier with Platform as a Service”:
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