Thursday, 17 December 2009

Tips on presenting at a conference

So I stumped up my £95 (+VAT) and decided to go to the Open Source and Finance eXchange. The day had some fairly interesting topics which unfortunately were (more often than not) ruined by poor presentations. This was particularly irritating as this was a paid conference and I expected a minimal level in the quality of speakers.

Of course the great value in going to a conference is always the interaction with the other attendees, but still it was a little disappointing.

So I thought I'd point out some tips for presenting at a conference:

  1. Be passionate in your delivery, no-one and I mean no-one is going to care about what you are talking about when you deliver it in a dull monotone.
  2. Don't let that screen saver/power saver cut out your presentation!
  3. Slow Down - Often people are nervous when they present, which is only natural, but it means that they have a tendency to speak far too quickly.
  4. Slow Down part 2 - If the language you are speaking in is not your first language, or if you know you have a strong accent, then again for the sake of clarity, slow down!
  5. If you're going to have graphics in your presentation, make sure they are readable when they are projected on the screen.
  6. Don't use complicated graphics, keep it simple! If in doubt get a Graphic Designer to take a look for you.
  7. Don't just repeat what are on your slides, the audience has already read them and you're adding no value.

Thankfully towards the end of the conference we had some good speakers including probably the best presentation I've ever seen at a conference. If you ever get the chance to see Simon Wardley (from Canonical) speak, then do yourself a favour and go and see him. The podcast of his talk will arrive here soon.

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