If you didn’t guess, I’m talking about MY Presentation for SIGiST Israel 2008!
After a very good keynote speech (separate post on the keynotes coming up soon), it was time for me to brave the crowd. I will admit to being a tad nervous.
I’ve given dozens of presentations in the past, but mostly to “friendly” audiences, i.e. my colleagues at work. Sure, they’ve often given me a hard time, but we were still part of the same family.
The last time I presented at an open conference was in 1993, when I presented “The Road to Requirements Maturity” at the IEEE International Conference on Software-Science, Technology & Engineering. That time, my updated version of the presentation wouldn’t load to the conference computer, and I had to give my updated (and better) presentation whilst the audience were viewing the older (and not-so-great) version…
This time I was not planning a rerun. With time to spare, I rounded up a couple of ex-team members, and asked them to please help me do a dry-run of my presentation.
Now these guys are good. VERY good. They make you shiver, they question every slide: why is it here? what do you want it to say? it doesn’t work…, it doesn’t make sense…, you aren’t focused enough…, who’s the audience? why is this subject important to you? why are you “wasting” their time? what do you want them to get out of it? the whole thing is backwards… etc. etc. etc.
They had no problem doing this when I was their boss, they certainly had no problem doing it when I wasn’t their boss anymore!
But seriously – there was no comparison between the presentation I had ready for the dry run, and the one I ended up presenting. It was night and day. And I felt a heck of a lot more confident because of that.
So a big, big thank you go to Shlomit Halevi and Mordechai Cikk from NDS. A big thank you also to Joel Tessler and David Egyes (also from NDS) for being the inspiration, and more, behind this presentation. Last but by no means least, my thanks go to Donna Abraham, a wonderful teacher, and Communications Specialist at Boyer Communications Group. Donna taught me “Presenting for Action“, which is so much more than “just another presentation course”, and which has improved my presentation skills more than I could have imagined.
Before I carry on, I need to add that I was proud to have my presentation voted as one of the top 3 (out of 23), and I can safely say that a dry run with really good people is one of the things that can help you get an OK presentation into an excellent one. If there’s one lesson you take away with you from this blog post (!), that should be it.
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