I had the privilege of spending the last 2.5 days listening to some presentations at the South African Information Security Multi-Conference in Port Elizabeth. Here are the things that impressed/annoyed me (either way there is some room for learning through reflection):
1. Have a story to tell – if you don’t know what the essence is of what you are saying, sadly the audience will not figure it out. Of course stories to connect to the audience work really well if chosen properly. Mostly presenters were reasonable in this regard – unfortunately there were some easy to spot exceptions 😦
2. The audience want to listen to your talk. I have the proceedings, I can read! In the presentation I want to hear the story, the explanation, the nuances, and most importantly your thoughts. As the audience, I want to figure out how your head works; the facts and small detail I’ll get from the writing. Several speakers had powerpoint diarrhea, however some others did a very decent to splendid job at this aspect.
3. Make sure the audience can hear you… Obvious? Apparently not…
4. The more you do it, the better you get. Assuming that you reflect on the exercise. Some of our students today in the postgrad symposium said they were more nervous than in their project proposals (probably rightly so as these are knowledgeable “strangers” that you talk to), but to me they appeared much more relaxed and in control than the first presentations. Well done.
5. Get your first couple of minutes right. Not only is it the time to grab attention, but if the nerves bother make sure that you know your first 2-3 minutes. After that, as you move ahead, you will become more relaxed and the audience will feel more “known”.
6. Setup BEFORE the time… make sure the projector works, that you are in dual screen mode in Powerpoint if that is what you want.
Overall quite a successful event and that goes for the main conference as well as the postgrad symposium. Well done to everybody. May your research prosper and your presentations reflect that.