On Monday I gave a presentation at my local user group and I know I can do better. I know this every time I do it. Here’s my post mortem then on what went well and what didn't.
- Have Enough Material
Make sure you know how long your session is and have enough material for it. Keep an eye on the clock as you go through the session so you can speed up or add a bit more material as required. If you over-run, know where you can stop early and skip to the conclusion.
- Take Backups of Everything
If you're doing demos, be prepared in case the demo gods are angry and decide to throw you a curveball. Save a copy of your code as it needs to be at the start of the demo and as it should look at the end of the demo. Then take separate copies on a USB stick as well in case your laptop dies on you. If you're using VS snippets take a back up of those as well. After connecting to the projector last night, my copy of VS decided I had never run it before and reset itself. Oh that I had taken a backup of those settings and snippets.
- Projectors are not your friend
- If possible, find out in advance what resolution the projector being used prefers and try running your presentation and demos in that resolution. Last night's projector gave a 4:3 image while my display is 16:9 resulting in a rather squashed look on my mirrored display in favour of the attendees having the better picture.
- Make sure your demos can be shown without too much scrolling in the resolution you'll be using
- Also check in advance what connections the projector uses. The user group should be able to cover it, but it never hurts to be prepared with your own cables.
- Get There Early And Get Comfortable
- Make sure you are comfortable with your setup before you start. Get there early, set up and run through a quick demo to make sure nothing untoward has happened in transit.
- Don't be surprised if something does go wrong in a demo, but know in advance how to get out of it if something untoward should happen. Know that you can get yourself back on track (you did take backups of your demo code didn't you?)
- Pack a USB keyboard light in case, like me last night, you find yourself trying to type purely by the light of your display.
- Be Positive
Don't be too negative unless that's part and parcel of your presentation.
- Don’t Let The floor Lead You
Know your subject well enough to field questions from the floor but don't be afraid to ask your interrogator to come and talk after the session if the answer would hold up your talk or digresses from it, else you’ll over-run.
I hope you find these points useful when you have a go and present a session yourself.