If you’ve attended Comdex, OracleWorld or a local technology briefing, you’ve seen a presentation. Sometimes presentations are good, sometimes they are bad and many times they are somewhere in between. If you’ve never given a presentation, you may not realize what goes into getting ready for a presentation.
I’ve had the honor of being selected to give a presentation at the upcoming IOUG Live! conference in Orlando later this month. I decided to share the process to give people a peek into the “other side” of presentations.
I’m not going to say that the process I am going to describe is the best or the only way, just the way I did it this time. Suggestions from more veteran presenters will be welcomed. Also, anyone who attends my presentation is cordially invited to let me know personally (or via feedback here) if the process I used worked out or not or whether I should even try to present again.
The first step is getting a topic. This might be real easy like when your boss tells you that you will be doing a presentation on network security to the whole IT group next week. Or when you discover a new process to track down that elusive performance problem that keeps coming up. Or it can be real hard and you might not have an idea for a topic. That’s usually where I am, I want to share knowledge about Oracle databases, but everything I think of already has people with more knowledge or a better angle on it.
While doing a technical review for O’Reilly, I discovered how to enhance performance of SQL*Loader jobs. For those of you with a life (i.e. not Oracle DBA’s
Topic securely selected, the next step is to prepare an abstract. The abstract is the super compressed version of your presentation. It’s what you would tell someone in a 10 second sound bite that would make them want to sit through an hour (or more) of this presentation. This is frequently what will be used to determine whether or not a given group will invite you to present. Make it count!
Next, you need an outline detailing what information you will put into the presentation and what points you will make for the audience. Make sure that you keep your abstract in front of you during this process so you don’t miss anything. For many reasons, you will want to have a white paper in addition to a presentation. Having an outline upfront makes developing the white paper much easier and you end up with a better paper.
Getting closer to the end now, you will need a presentation. Technically, you might not, but unless you are a supermodel, most people would prefer to look at something other than you the whole time. This is what will either help you keep the attention of your audience or send them screaming for the exits. There are many resources on preparing presentations, but some of the important points are:
- Keep it simple. Too much on one slide is confusing.
- Make it big. Remember your audience will not be as close to the screen as you are.
- Use color carefully.
- Make the presentation flow.
A good idea is to present this several times before your big day. Even if you need to go slowly so your dog can understand, the act of a live rehersal will make you more comfortable with the presentation. After that, if you can present it to an audience for additional practice, do it. Maybe an internal presentation to your colleagues at work or to a local user group. Make notes when people ask questions and you can add polish to your presentation.
Sometime during that process, you need to decided where you would like to present and start to find out what the process is for becoming a presenter. For many local user groups, the process is very simple and only requires an abstract and availability to get scheduled. For large conferences or paid speaking engagements, the requirements get tougher.
My abstract was accepted for the International Oracle Users Group (IOUG) Live! 2003 conference in Orlando, FL later this month. The final draft of my paper and presentation have been submitted to the conference committee and I am working my way through my final rehersals. Hopefully the time and effort I’ve put in to this presentation will make it worthwhile for the people that attend my session.
Anyone that is an experienced presenter that would like to make any pre-presentation suggestions for a good presentation, please either use the talk-back feature here or send me e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you given a presentation?
If not, why not?
If so, what have you done differently than I did to prepare?