Recently, I had the privileged of being asked to give a ‘show and tell’ style presentation, at the Firefly Developer’s Day, held at Radley College.
In truth, I received this invitation with a mixture of pride and anxiety – visions springing to mind of the Michael Bay ‘meltdown’ during his presentation at CES 2014!
Don’t get me wrong, I love debates of all natures (just ask my colleagues & family ) and certainly feel confident in my chosen subject area. Indeed, in a ‘previous life’ my primary role was working as a software trainer.
Why heck, I’ve done hundreds of musical gigs over the past 25 years or so (albeit in the comfort of a band environment); but a crowd isn’t completely alien to me.
However, it’s always slightly scary when you don’t truly know your audience or the quality of technical support that’s there to back you up!
I have always prided myself on doing the best I can, in whatever I do – I’m not claiming to be a perfectionist by any means, but I like to do a good job.
Although, in truth this was a relatively small gathering of technically minded folk, I still wanted to give it my best shot. As such, I took advice from several people, that had more experience of public speaking than me (particular thanks to Chris Sykes – the Drama Teacher at St Mary’s School, Shaftesbury).
So, a plan of action was established (...sort of)
- Presentation must have credibility - I have witnessed too many IT presentations in the past, which attempt to ‘blind with science’ in order to mask a clear lack of subject knowledge .
- Must be passionate and engaging (well, as much as you can be, in such circumstances).
- Allow for technical fall-back
if things go wrongexpect things to go wrong .
- Have a back-up strategy for stage nerves.
- Rehearse, rehearse and then rehearse again.
- Test, test and then test again.
- Did I say ‘test’?
- Did I say ‘rehearse’?
- Oh yes, and breathe!
- Post presentation review.
Some may say this is a little overkill for a small presentation, but I would disagree.
Indeed, I even went so far as to pre-record screen cast video’s of all the demos used in the presentation, just in case of internet failure (as funny enough, that happens occasionally).
For a bit of sparkle, I also took the opportunity to use the browser based presentation framework revealJS in an attempt to break away from death by PowerPoint. Ironically, I received more comments about this, than anything else (I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing).
I rehearsed the talk several times, and also maintained a good old fashioned ‘paper’ crib sheet – yes you read that correctly, paper!
Summary and Video!
This may just be a rambling about a ‘small town’ IT presentation, but I am glad to report that the event went rather well, as did the Firefly Developer’s Day in general.
I certainly didn’t ‘die on stage’ - technically or emotionally (which is always a bonus), and I hope a few nuggets of information were successfully dispensed.
Clearly, there is always room for improvement, which I shall endeavour to make.
Unfortunately, the quality of the video footage from the presentation is rather poor, but Firefly were kind enough to provide me with a copy, for post presentation critique!
As such, to complete the blog post, I have included this below (warts and all) along with a link to the revealJS presentation.
(Sincere thanks to Firefly for giving me the stage; to Radley College ICT department, who provided excellent and seamless support, and to my fellow attendees of the Firefly Developer’s Day, who were very kind in their reception)