On speaking etiquette and presentation slides

To get prepared for technical presentations I create some sample live demo programs, and when it ‘s ready, the boring part begins. I need to create slides and submit them to the event organizers prior to the event, and they promise to make them available to the attendees a month after the event. I do this even though my slides without hearing me talking are pretty much useless.

I was getting ready for my yesterday ‘s presentation following the above scenario. A working demo plus a couple of pre-recorded screencasts. Two slides per minute. Not too much text, which I never read from slides anyway.

My talk was scheduled to start at 3PM. I came to the room at 2:55PM. The other speaker was supposed to be done at 2:50PM, but he did not finish yet. At 3:05PM the conference organizers started to send him signals to wrap it up. He asked a naive question, “Do I have five more minutes? rdquo; as if he has no clue that he was already stealing time from me? Did he ever bother to time his speech? The conference organizers answered, “No, you don “t rdquo;. He ignored, and spoke for another five minutes. At 3:10PM he wrapped up with a promise to send his slides to everyone who “d leave him a business card.

I stopped by the podium and politely asked him, rdquo;Could I please hook up my laptop (his laptop was still hooked up to the projector)? rdquo; thinking to myself, “Can you get the fuck out of here asap? rdquo; The guy said “Sure rdquo; and started exchanging his business cards with about ten people who wanted his slides. Another three minutes went by. Finally, hooked up my laptop to their projector just to find out that my laptop does not understand that there is one mo re presentation device. Since it “s 3:15 already, I decided to start the preso anyway asking someone to call the technician.

During the first ten minutes of my presentation two people who call themselves AV technicians came touching my laptop and pressing the video cable firmly into the plug. It did not help. I was giving my speech to the audience anyway. My mistake was that I left my own projector one floor down. I asked the technician to bring it, but he disappeared assuming that the audience could enjoy this preso without the projector. Guess what, he was right.

During 45 minutes I was covering my topic without using any visual aids, and it was one of my best presentations. I did not have to interrupt for watching at the computer screen to change the slides and I was able to keep people awake with less efforts. Afterward, a couple of people stopped by asking me to send them the slides, which I did the same day. A couple of more people asked for the live demo, which I did right after the talk. Someone has invited me to another presentation in NYC in the Oracle JUG event in NYC, which proves that I did well.

And now I “m thinking that this may be the right way to present. Prepare the slides to make the conference organizers happy, and give them away to those who really want them. Of course, showing some hands-on work would still require a projector, but the slides could be skipped. They are useful for people who want something to copy/paste from while creating their own slides or whitepapers.

Have you been to the presentations that have about twenty slides with one sentence on each, that would appear on the screen with some special visual effects? I “ve seen them too. Presenters make them just to show that they were preparing for this talk. But only the audience can tell if this person is ready or not regardless on the number of slides they “ve seen.

I ‘ll try to repeat this experience runnin the next presentations withot slides at the upcoming talks in August on Enterprise Flex.


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