Last month Kjetil and I where speakers at the MSDN Live tour in Norway. We held presentations in Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim and Oslo. After this tour I learned something about doing a technical presentation for developers. I want to share my experience from this tour. I have gathered nine points with experience:
1) Use a lot of code in the presentation.
We did a big mistake in the first presentation in Stavanger. We didn’t show much code. I guess when a developer goes to a event like this, (s)he wants to see code, preferably live code in Visual Studio. We increased our ratings when we added more code to the second presentation in Bergen.
2) Know the stuff your presenting so well that you are dreaming about it!
Developers want to be impressed when going to a presentation. There is no room for errors!
3) Use pictures and make the slides sexy
Design sells, just ask Apple. Spend some time to polish the slides. Use pictures to underline what you are talking about. You probably know the old saying; “Pictures tells more than thousand words”.
4) Don’t use to many slides.
People may go into a “PowerPoint coma” and you don’t want that.
5) Show that you are enthusiastic about the stuff you are presenting.
There is nothing more inspiring than to watch a person that is enthusiastic about the stuff (s)he is presenting. It rubs of to the audience.
6) Talk about something you have worked with.
The audience will more likely believe in what you are saying if you talk about something you have worked with and have real life experience with.
7) Think twice before doing a presentation together with another person
You would probably think that being two persons working on the presentation will make the preparation go faster. Well it won’t. It’s much harder to be two persons working on a presentation. It’s a lot of decisions to be made and it’s easier to argue with yourself than another person. Create the presentation on your own, and then get feedback from other people, but don’t trust every advice you get. Be critical because it’s you who know the thing you're presenting best. The great thing about doing a presentation together with another person is that you are not alone on the stage and feel more safe. We managed to get a good interaction on stage, which the audience appreciated.
8) People may leave and not pay attention during your presentation.
F**k them. Don’t let things like this interfere with your presentation. I have experienced people having a conversation during a presentation I did and it’s quite annoying. It can throw you a bit off so be mentally prepared for this.
9) Make the audience laugh
Most technical presentations are boring by default. Do something to entertain the audience, but don’t make yourself look stupid. Don’t make fun of the thing you are presenting.