Thursday, August 18, 2016

Step By Step: The Presentation

Nicholas Bate has 11 ways to improve an "assigned" presentation.

My favorites are items 3 and 4.

The above picture is a slide I use in my council presentations class. It is an example of what to have on the screen when discussing fire department emergency response times.


Anonymous said...

Pretty clever, leaving out the URL. That or I'm blind. Leaving it out encouraged me to head on over to his site, happily back now. And thanks for introducing me to Cultural Offering and Nicholas's site, as well as some other great things.

For posterity, the URL

I was once assigned a topic for a user conference, and it was a pretty horrible topic. If I wasn't giving the presentation, even I wouldn't have attended the session. So I finagled a different topic, based on my just completed project. My chosen topic was dirt simple, and dead-on useful - software debugging using the tools provided by the operating system (I'm a software guy).

I started the presentation with an audio visual aid, a clever little greeting card that played the Twilight Zone theme song when you opened it. Because being in the Twilight Zone is about how it feels when you start debugging something. You're a bit lost and there might well be something wrong, perhaps very very wrong, with reality.

I ran thru the tools, including some of the simplest things you'd never think to do, and some hard earned experience of how to use other tools, based on a simple list of all the commands the system provided. At one point, I ran into one command I'd never used and stopped the presentation dead in it's tracks to ask if anyone had used it. And waited. Waited some more. Finally, one brave soul spoke up and he held the audience entranced while he simply and succinctly explained how and why he used the tool. Priceless. Back to the presentation, wrapped it up, opened things up for Q&A, and done with maybe 5 minutes left in the session. They had to kick us out of the room for the next session because people stuck around to talk about their debugging experiences. Sometimes things really come together.

I didn't imagine once that the audience was sitting in their underwear. I imagined they were smart people who were interested in the topic. Turns out they were.

Presentations can be fun.


Michael Wade said...


I apologize for the missing link. Pure sloppiness on my part.

What a great story! There is a magic that can take place at such moments, possibly due to the genuineness of a shared search for answers. Too many presenters ask questions without really expecting or waiting for an answer.

Thanks for that. I will try to remember it as a guide for my own presentations.