I have been doing more and more talks lately. I am not a natural speaker I usually need to practice a few times before in order to talk more fluently. But practice has made me more comfortable with it and I feel that I am getting better at it. Two days ago I held a long (3.5 hour) talk on ASP.NET MVC which was both my longest talk and my most successful, at least considering the positive response a got, which was very encouraging.
The talk was mostly a long code demo. One thing that can often kill code demos are that they can slow down the tempo of a presentation when there is too much typing of unimportant text/code. Like creating a new class, constructor, etc and then later getting to the really important part of a particular function.
In this MVC code demo I tried to have as much prepared as possible. I started with a standard MVC template project, but had hidden (excluded from the project) controllers and views which I included as the code demo progressed. These controllers/views included some existing functionality which I then expanded upon. That way I did not need to type class definitions defining simple controller actions and views before getting to the interesting bits.
I did the same with many other parts of the presentation, for example when explaining how to unit test controller actions I already had an almost empty test method already written, and only needed to show how to unit test the controller actions and how to assert on the result.
I also had code snippets in the toolbox for some of the tricky parts of the code demo that I could use if something did not work or I felt that it took to long to write. Never let a problem in the code demo completely halt the presentation, have a backup plan or just move a long if you cannot fix the problem on the first 2 tries.
I feel that I still have much to work on when it comes to presentation technique. I often talk a little to fast, need to focus on keeping calm and talking in a slow and articulate manner. It doesn’t matter how nice your powerpoint or code demo is if the audience can’t hear what you are saying!
Next up is trying keynote, nice to see how it compares to powerpoint.