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Headlong rush to Conference – Preparing the Presentations November 29, 2011

Posted by mwidlake in Meeting notes, UKOUG.
Tags: , , , ,

With only a few days to go before the UKOUG conference this year I’m preparing my presentations. I know pretty much what I want to say and, for the IOT talk at least, it is not as if I do not have enough material already prepared – some of which has been on the blog posts and some of which has not. (though it did strike me that I could just fire up the blog and walk through the thread, taking questions).

My big problem is not what to say – it is what not to say.

I’ve always had this problem when I want to impart knowledge, I have this desire to grab the audience by the throat, take what I know about the subject and somehow just cram the information into the heads of the people in front of me. All of it. I want them to know everything about it that I know, the core knowledge, the oddities, the gotchas, how it meshes with other topics. It’s ridiculous of course, if I’ve spent many hours (days, weeks, 20 years) acquiring experience, reading articles and learning, I can’t expect to pass that all on in a one hour presentation – especially as I like to provide proof and examples for what I say. But I think the desire to do so is part of what makes me a good presenter and tutor. I bounce around in front of the audience, lobbing information at them and constantly trying to judge if I need to backup and give more time to anything or if I can plough on, skipping the basics. Hint, if you are in the audience and I’m going too fast or garbling my topic, then I am always happy to be asked questions or told to reverse up a little. I’ve never been asked to speed up though 🙂

It gets even worse. If I am putting myself up there to talk about a topic then I don’t want to be found wanting. I want to be able to handle any question and have a slide or example up my sleeve to demonstrate it. It’s exhausting and, again, pointless. At somewhere like the UKOUG there is bound to be someone who knows something I don’t know about any topic.

For me the trick is to pare it down, to keep reminding myself that if the audience leaves with more knowledge than they came in with, that is a win. If they actually enjoyed the experience I’m even more happier. Maybe I should forget the topic and just take drinks and nibbles…

So, I’m currently doing what I always do, which is trying to force myself to remove stuff that is not directly relevant whilst still leaving a few little oddities and interesting items. Plus getting the 200 slides down to something more reasonable – like say 120 🙂

If I can get it down to one slide per minute (some of which I skip on the day as they are there for anyone downloading the talk) then I’m OK.

Of course, having done this, the day before the course I’ll do one last “final review” – and add a couple of dozen slides to just clarify a few points…


1. Tim Hall - November 29, 2011

I have to keep asking myself, “What is the central message you are trying to get across?”

Anything that doesn’t feed that message should be dropped. If I feel the need to say more, because maybe I’ve omitted some caveats, then I point people to an article I wrote on the subject. I know others put together a full paper for their talks so it frees them up from getting too messed up in the fine details.

My insecurity wants me to say everything I know on a subject, because I don’t want people to think I’ve not thought of the other aspects. Time dictates I have to focus on a small aspect. So it’s ego vs. time. 🙂

I’ve only been doing the whole presentation thing for 4 years, but I’m now starting to feel like I’m getting the hang of it.



mwidlake - November 29, 2011

Good point Tim. If it’s off-topic, it’s out of the talk!

I don’t want to worry you but it was my fourth or fifth year at UKOUG when I started overrunning so badly on talks! I think I’ve got a handle on that again though (so long as I turn up on time).

2. Doug Burns - November 29, 2011

Of course, writing both blog posts and presentations is somewhat easier IF YOU DON’T HAVE A JOB TO DO AS WELL!

Eh,chaps? 😉

mwidlake - November 29, 2011


Neil Chandler - November 29, 2011

I’m sure you could arrange that situation for yourself easily enough, Doug. :o)

3. PdV - November 29, 2011

Less is more.
And Good, Simple messages are the most powerful.
CU in Brum.

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