Now, I’m not one to always give technical presentations in front of huge audiences and whatnot but if you’re a technical fella of some sort, you understand when I say that sometimes you have to deal with a huge variety of customers. I mean not everyone is as technical as us otherwise they wouldn’t need our help or listen to us in the first place, would they? One of the things I always told myself when talking tech with different people has always been to “cater” to their needs. Basically, you want the conversation to be meaningful to the listener. It’s a very common sense kind of thing but you’ll be surprised at how often techies forget that they are talking to their financial bosses who have no clue about many technical things and ramble on and on with technical jargon. Soon enough, the conversation goes nowhere and the other party is left more confused than ever. I know, it’s hard for some of us because we just need to flex our muscles a bit sometimes and show other people that we are very smart when it comes to technical stuff. The major problem is, many of us don’t know when the right time is to get technical and when not to!
Mark Russinovich and Mark Minasi are probably two of the most popular Windows platform presenters on the planet. Mark Russinovich is insanely popular with the technical crowd due to his immense knowledge of the Windows platform and for his work with the Sysinternal tools he provides for the public. Mark Minasi is known for his books on the Windows server platform along with his always interesting presentations that he gives to his audiences. They have joined together for a video instructing you many tips and secrets on how to give effective technical talks and presentations. Communication is big part of IT now. Gone are the days where network administrators get to hide out in the server basement room and play games or whatever it is they did back then. Nowadays, presentation and communication skills are necessary if you are to achieve success in pretty much any field. Therefore, by learning how to cater your presentation and talks to the right people, you’ll have a higher success rate at succeeding in whatever it was you were set out to teach.You can watch the video by going here. You’ll need the Silverlight player from Microsoft to be able to watch the video online. However, if you don’t have it or don’t want it installed, you can also simply download the entire video itself and view it on your own desktop with your video player of choice. Because the video doesn’t consist of fancy graphics and whatnot, I suggest you download the “High Quality MP4” version of the video.
After watching the video, here are some of my favorite tips and tricks learned from the presentation:The tips I go over here doesn’t just apply to giving technical talks. It applies to pretty much all presentations you might give.
Know Your Topic!
I can’t stress about this enough! Whenever you give a presentation of any kind, not just technical related, you must have knowledge of your topic! Your audience is there to listen to you talk about that specific topic so wouldn’t it make you look like a fool if you had no idea what you were talking about? Knowing your topic well also gives you the confidence boost you’ll need to combat stage fright. By not putting enough time into your research, you’ll no doubt be worst off as now you’ll be scared that your audience members may know more of your topic than you do! When that happens, you’ll ultimately lose confidence in yourself and your presentation. If anything, even if you don’t follow any of the other advices from the video, make sure to follow this one! Your audience might find you a bore whenever they watch you present the next time around but at least they’ll have a peace of mind that you know your stuff and wouldn’t be wasting their time. People aren’t stupid. Many of your audience members probably have sat through dozens if not hundreds of presentations over time. I’m sure they can definitely tell whether or not you’ve just put your presentation together just last night vs. weeks ago. It’s also important to remember, although it can be a bit hard at times, that you might also have a few exceptionally smart audiences members as well. Don’t feel the constant need to prove that you are the smartest one in the room.
Know Your Audience Ahead of Time!
Whether giving a presentation to 50-100 members or just 3-5, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you know your audience members! Why go all out and be super geeky when your audience members consists of your parents or siblings that don’t have the computer knowledge that you do? It will be a waste of not only your time but your audiences as well. Have a feel for who your audience members will be and talk accordingly to their level. It’s definitely OK to get a little technical at times but as long as you explain things through in a more clear manner, your audience will have more respect for you. Many a times, some audience members are embarrassed to ask technical questions in front of others because they don’t want to look weak. It’s your job as the presenter to make each member feel comfortable and striking a balance between dumbing down your content and being overly technical.
Get the Audience Members Involved!
It’s hard to imagine how anyone could give an hour long (or longer) presentation when all they will be doing is spouting out information after information. In other words, talk, talk, talk, rabble, rabble, rabble. However, I have actually seen presentations like this and while the presenter definitely proves that he/she knows the topic very well, the presentation itself is very boring! Remember, you’re talking to live human beings, not robots. They have feelings and emotions just like you do. Get them involved by asking them questions or vice-versa. Another trick is to put yourself in the audiences shoes and talk about their viewpoints. If the audience feels like you actually care about them, they will genuinely pay closer attention to what you have to say. Heck, you can even try making jokes! Doing so is OK as long as you know when and how to deliver the joke. Also, make sure the joke is at least semi-funny! It would be really awkward if you told a joke that no one in the room laughs at or can relate too.
Speak Loud and Clear!
Again, this is a very common sense issue and one that everyone thinks they got it mastered but once presentation time rolls around, everything falls apart. No matter how big your audience, you have to understand that all eyes and focus will be on you. Therefore, you need to speak with a loud and commanding voice so that you can take control of your audiences. If you mumble a lot, it might portray you as either unprepared or just lacking confidence in general. Think about it. If it seems like you don’t want to be there, what makes you think your audience members will want to? Remember, you’re in charge when presenting so act the part!
Practice, Practice and more Practice!
Ever heard of practice makes perfect? As with everything, the more times you do something, the better you’ll get at it. Or at the very least, be comfortable doing it without having the jitters. Start off by rehearsing by yourself. As you build confidence, perform it in front of your friends and peers and ask for honest opinions on what they liked and didn’t liked about the way you presented. When rehearsing by yourself, there are many times when you can actually spot out what you need to improve on yourself! For example, you’ll often times find yourself having the need to talk louder, finding the right time to speed things up a bit and when to slow it down, and taking the time to pronounce your words correctly. That is why practicing is very important. If you need some inspiration, take a look at videos of other popular speakers to pick up some hints and tips as to how to have successful presentations and speeches. Bill Gates and President Obama in my eyes are pretty good public speakers.If you want to get a better insight as to how to become a better speaker and presenter, I suggest you read The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie. It’s an old book but many of the thoughts and ideas written in it still applies today. Think of it as Sun Tzu and his Art of War philosophies. It’s a free eBook and if you have a Kindle or another eBook reading device, you can download the version that applies to your device. If not, feel free to download the PDF version.
In the End…
I find this video presentation very beneficial. Almost immediately after watching, you’ll have a lot of information and advices that you can apply to the real world. I’m sure a lot of us dread having to give presentations but it’s something that we cannot avoid. In fact, the more you try to avoid it, the more difficult it’s going to get down the road. Instead of wasting all your time worrying about what could go wrong, you’re better off spending that time going over things that can minimize that potential instead. You can do that by watching the video by Mark Russinovich and Mark Minasi. Good luck!