How to Give a Technical Presentation by Ken Caruso

Ken, an old Seattle Wireless friend, just posted a fabulous guide on how to give a technical talk. 

  1. Do not talk your slides

    Slides should not repeat what you are saying, they should compliment the point you are trying to get across. Ask yourself, does the slide deck add anything to the spoken word.

  2. Put your speaking notes in the slide deck and make them available after the talk

    This way, you are not pressured to put too much of your talk into the slides for people viewing the preso after the event.

  3. Don't put the audience to sleep

    Only provide enough technical nitty gritty to get your point across, even though its a hacker preso you are still speaking to people with different backgrounds and expertise.

    Don't bore 70 percent of the audience, the 30 percent that know the subject can talk to you at the bar or ask good questions in your Q&A session.

    People that are interested in the hardcore technical details know how to read and use a browser.

  4. Don't put the audience to sleep #2

    Try to keep slides under 20 words and don't spend more than 1-2 minutes on a individual slide.

  5. Identify and squash audience ratholes

    No matter how much you ask people to hold off questions till the end. There will always be someone who wants to drag you into a rathole. Politely but concisely blow them off till the Q&A, its your floor.

  6. Short does not equal bad

    If you can get your point across in 1/2 hour, don't drag it out to fill the time. This leaves plenty of Q&A time.

  7. Social Engineer the audience into paying attention

    Humour is key to get and keep your audiences' attention. Real world (but short) stories that apply to the subject at hand ++.

  8. Practice Practice Practice

    Don't do your talk for the first time at the show. Dry run in front of a mirror or better yet a video camera. Even the best presentation material can suck if the presenter says "um" or "you know" every other word.

    The first time I did a dry run of a preso in front of someone, the rule was if I said uhm I had to start over. I started the preso almost 150 times before I made it through the whole thing without saying uhm.

  9. Practice Practice Practice #2

    Projector's die, hard drives crash, be ready to present without your slides.

  10. Demo's should be well tested and thought out

    Don't rely on the conference network for your demo.

    Boot your slow ass VMware images at the start of the talk so they are ready to rock by demo time. People did not come to watch your VMware instances boot up to see a demo that 80 percent of the time is going to bomb anyway.

  11. Test your slide deck on projector

    I don't know how many times I have seen a preso where a code sample or log output is displayed and the presenter is caught off guard because not only can the audience not make out the tiny fonts, but neither can the presenter who is standing right next to the screen.

archive posted on 18 Jul 2007 in #travelling