Are you presenting at cf.Objective, CFUnited, CFMeetup, etc?

Monday, January 12, 2009

This is not a paid advertisement. I do not have an Amazon referrer account. I am a conference attendee. I have to sit in your presentations for an hour. Sometimes, they rock. Sometimes, they suck. Sometimes, they're average. If you're cool with that -- with being "OK", then please move along. If, however, you want to make sure you're not killing your audience with page upon page of bullet points; if you want to engage your audience; if you don't want to see "shouldn't put this snoozer after lunch" on your eval forms (ask Bill!); if you want to really grab people as Bill did at the bacfug (I think he did, anyway) -- then I strongly urge you to buy this book: Presentation Zen. I have a presentation at work coming up. It's a presentation on the concepts in Dale Dauten's Great Employees Only, which has become one of my favorite books. My boss and I are presenting it to the "management team". The concepts are tough. It's a disruptive book on a close-to-the-heart topic (hiring and 'de-hiring'). It will sting. The audience will want to strangle me at one point or another for being an uppity, haughty, high-minded know-it-all who really doesn't know sh*t about sh*t. Knowing that, I know that this presentation needs to be the best presentation I've ever given. And as I work through Presentation Zen, I can see the changes already. The difference between "what we would've presented" and "what we will present" is dramatic, and we still have two weeks of revising to go. I tell you this because if this book is good enough to transform a critical presentation to a "management team" from good to great, then it's good enough to transform a geek-to-geek presentation from good to great, too. My audience does not want to be there. They are resistant. They will fight the concepts violently. They will be directly challenged, called out, questioned, backed against a wall. Your audience is choosing to give you their time. They want to be there. They want to be dazzled, engaged, taught. They want to walk out of your conference room a better, smarter, more thoughtful person than when they walked in. They want you to succeed! You owe it to them to be the best you can be. Bah! Words words words.
  • Words
  • Words words
  • Words. and. more. words
Maybe look at this instead?


Adam Haskell said...

+100 on the book(s). I still struggle with some of in the book you are presenting about (thanks for it by the way).

billy said...


Thanks for brining to light the typical "Slideument" tradgedy we have grown accustomed to.

One concept in presentation zen was to try to keep the text in your slides to no more than 6 words, or some such. What a concept! As an audience participant, you are then forced to look at and listen to the presenter, as opposed to trying to read a busy slide, take notes, AND listen at the same time. Why not just listen, take it in, and read about later? Works for me!


Mike said...

Hey Marc,
I'm digging the book also. It's a great topic because I both loathe those boring powerpoints and am also the worst offender in giving them. I'm definitely going to try to use a lot of what's in there. It even makes putting one together a bit more fun.

I really like the idea of cutting off the eggheads at the beginning by letting them know that all the notes they need have already been taken and will be passed out at the end. Great stuff!

Hey Billy, I love the Che blackberry picture ;).

Marc Esher said...

Mike, I totally agree... preparing an "Everything you need is in this handout" handout mentally frees you to keep that stuff out of your powerpoint. And it's more useful for the people in the room.

billy said...

@Mike, A blackberry? Shee-it! Please just shoot me with a Cuban bullet ;-)


Mike said...

@billy: Oops.

Marc Esher said...

Mike, don't let him fool you. before he was a machinegun-toting rebel, he was addicted to that crackberry.

billy said...

@marc, I only took one small hit off of the crackberry pipe, and only because "they" said I had to. I felt the oppression then, the fear, yet, I sensed a greater calling somewhere deep inside. And it resonated deeply. No longer will I cower to likes of capitalist scum. No longer will I be forced to watch Entertainment Tonight, eat Lean Cuisines, and feel I am a fat looser even though I have Wii Fit. No longer will I allow the media swine whores to soil the truth within just because I can't text very fast. Rise up, brothers and sisters, and take back what is rightfully ours!! Rise up and take back our freedom!!!

Oh shit ... I forgot the time! Gotta clock out for my coffee break.

Mike said...

Capitalist scum?! You may be interested in this:

I prefer the military green one myself.

Marc Esher said...

I hate to get off this fun commie direction ya'll took it :-)

but i'm wondering... what'd you think of my quick and dirty PZ-inspired Powerpoint? No mad props to Dee Snider? For the metaphorical shift from lame to badass via the transition from lame-o Glen Campbell Rhinestone Cowboy wood guitar to badass striped Eddie Van Halen Axe?

Nothin? You got nothin for me?

Mike said...

ok, you really got me with the axe. I like the first slide the best. Sets the tone for the whole thing. And of course seeing the book cover at the end immediately made me thing of this:

The Dee Schneider image is truly disturbing when it appears on the screen.

billy said...

Yes! Slide 2. One question, who's the dog between "me" and "the chick who walked by at slide #3"? maybe a corpse who could not live through the preso? Also, that image of Dee would wake any snoozing programmer.

Marc Esher said...

@mike: sweet pic. I've never seen that.

@bill: I ran out of cleverness after "the chick in the hall". Sometimes a dog is just a dog.

though it would be pretty darn funny in retrospect if that dog weren't a "bored by your presentation" dog, but just a dog who likes smelling homeless dudes' stinky nuts. Though not family friendly, i might add.