How to give your first presentation

Giving presentations can be a lot of fun, it can be something you have worked on for a long time and sharing experience is a great finale. It can also be that you learned something on a project you did, what you made wrong and how that maybe can save others time so they don't do the same mistakes.

However it can seem very difficult to go from the idea to actually having a presentation that you are ready to give, so here are a few tips that I give to others.

Think about what change you want to make

Having a purpose of why you go on stage makes it so much easier to be confident and believe in yourself. It can be like: "I want to convince people to use X", "I want to prepare people for Y". If you do it like this, you can look at your presentation before you go on stage and think if it answers that question.

Telling a story, the why of it and the person behind

People like hearing stories and hearing a story also make you more relatable, it is a mistake if you try to abstract yourself away from your presentation because you think that people are not interested in you or you are not important.

By including yourself you make your presentation unique, only you could give that presentation in the whole world. We are not interested solely in the technical details, some of that is easier to look upon our mobile phone.

Why are you interested in this topic? How has it benefited you? When did you first learn about this?

People can't remember details from a presentation

It is impossible to show something in a presentation and then all the participants know exactly how to do that thing. So if that is true, don't spend a lot of time on detailed walkthroughs. Details can help you drive your overall point and you can show code for example that people can relate to. Or said in another way: live coding is purely a performance to impress, so when you mess it up, you made the opposite impression.

Do include details, at CopenhagenJS that I help organize, many people want to see the code details. It is like seeing is believing.

Limit the amount of smileys and pictures

I tried it, and it does work, but in most cases, it falls through, it is simply not as funny as you thought it was when you made the presentation. I am not saying avoid it, but it is my advice to keep it minimal to avoid that inner feeling of cringe. Somehow this also includes slides transitions, it never works in production ;)

Keeping it short is better

It all depends on where you are giving your presentation if it is at a conference where people have traveled to learn, do take a long time to get all the details in there. Is it however in the evening after people have been at work, keeping it short and concise is a much better strategy. It also forces you to think about what point you want to get across.

Think about it like talking to your friends, most of what you like to talk about you can do in a short amount of time. You don't say to your friend, "hold on, do you have 30 minutes before we start so I can tell my full story? Otherwise, you will not get the conclusion!"

End your presentation on a high

Do try to end your presentation on a high, like a final more powerful statement, maybe even save the best point to the last. Nothing feels better and leaves the audience with a great feeling if they can see the speaker is happy. The worst feeling is when you can see that you are losing people, some begin looking at their phone, and you can't seem to end your presentation correctly with that messaged you had imagined people had to understand and get.

Do note that ...

your first presentation is the hardest and I know it can be super difficult to remember all these things when you take the first step onto the stage. Congrats on take the step to give your first presentation! Only good things will come out it, maybe you even like to do it again!

You can also read about my first time giving a presentation. After that I wanted to it again.

I also learned a lot from reading Seth Godin blog and seeing his presentations, they are really good!

Tags:#speaking #meetup
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