Making a self presentable


Well, this blog posts finds our heroine in post-presentation stupor. I had to give a presentation yesterday on community for Microsoft Web professionals, introducing and explaining a little about the two Microsoft community Web sites – http://www.asp.net and the Windows XpertZone Community. Then, the two dudes better-equipped to speak about those sites – Richard Ersek and Chris Norred – took the floor and talked community techniques and Web site tactics.This is all part of an internal companywide career development deal I referred to more obliquely in this other blog post.


After it was over, I staggered offstage in my sweaty sandals and said to one of the Microsoft.com site managers: “I love talking with the community, but man I can’t stand presentations!“ Which of course begs the question: Betsy, how the heck do you interact with the community if giving speeches is out of the question? What do you do, mime?


Ok, so it’s not out of the question that I give a speech to you folks out in communityland. (If you want mime however, you are going to wait a very long time).


 Giving PowerPoint presentations just doesn’t feel as easy as chatting people up at conferences or typing madly into a blog in between lattes. My discomfort tied  ironically into the keynote speech given earlier that day by David Weinberger, one of the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto. He told us that people would value most hearing the imperfection of real people because marketing is perfected, single-voiced, and aimed like a war machine at the public. Mistakes, badly written blogs and emails, all carry an authenticity that laminated corporate chirping can’t attain. The Mscom community folks took copious notes. But it’s hard to capture the hilarity of David’s delivery style, irreverent and funny…his Web site has a video clip that gets at it a bit more.


I can talk forever over a latte or a conference room table about community, and get it off the cuff, eloquent. I can’t stand in front of an audience being videotaped without subjecting myself to impossible standards. It wasn’t helped by the fact I took a presentation skills class at Microsoft a week prior, where they videotape you and show you EXACTLY how fat you look when you are supposed to be gesticulating wildly. I was supposed to note how wooden I was and emit more excitement when talking about community but all I could think was: I am NEVER  wearing that purple sweater again.


Isn’t it funny? I know better. I know that people want it real rather than fake. It’s just embarassing as hell.


And no, I’m not gonna reproduce my community speech here. Instead, I advise you to read Jeff Sandquist in his blog “Everything I know about community I learnt tending bar“.


Cheers! Live it vivid!


Comments (6)

  1. William Luu says:

    I suppose it’s a matter of when you’re giving powerpoint presentations (or any other presentation for that matter), generally you want to be more formal, project a certain image to your audience. [Here, you also try your best to project the best image of yourself… So, you’d be very self conscious. Making sure everything that is said sounds okay, and that you actually look okay.]

    Speaking informally, your language will tend to be less formal, and you tend to go with the flow. [Here, you go with the flow, you aren’t really self-conscious.]

    I don’t think there is a simple solution that works for everyone. Everyone probably has diffrent ways to do their presentations. I know personally, I get nervous as heck giving presentations (at times), but am at total ease when just talking socially with others.

    Oh, and also notice the way you talk during interviews (in particular job interviews). Also very diffrent.

    Guess it’s all about being presentable, and having confidence in whatever you are going to say. As having confidence in what you are going to say beforehand, means you’re not going to be so nervous and self conscious about how you are going to be received by the audience.

  2. Jeff Atwood says:

    Regardless, you still looked better than Steve Ballmer.

    GIVE IT UP FOR ME!!11!@!