Let's face it. Preparing for a big presentation can be pretty daunting, no matter how many times you've done it. You want to provide valuable information, project your message clearly, and let your personality shine, too. It's a huge balancing act. However while imagining the audience in their underpants may have worked in grade school, calming your nerves before a large audience of tech leaders is a whole other ball-game.
Luckily, these MVPs have come to the rescue. We spoke to 5 expert speakers about preparing their slide decks, how they adjust their presentations for the crowd, the best way to engage with the audience - and yes, how they overcome their nerves. Check out what they had to say:
Codemotion Tel Aviv, Techfest Israel
I understand, that in conferences, the participants will have different backgrounds and levels of expertise. I think that this is one of the main obstacles of delivering a good lecture. You must have something new to tell everyone in the audience. So I... dig hard to find facts that almost no one knows, including myself before finding them. Sometimes it is an anecdote about how things started. Sometimes it is about an internal implementation. I search for patents and other documents that can give me some of these hidden pearls.
SharePoint Saturdays in South Africa, aOS Community SA Roadtrip
The first conference I ever spoke at I over prepared for. I realized that it doesn’t work for me. Even though I prepare my slide decks in advance – I never practice it. I’ve learnt some tricks around strategic placement of ‘pauses’ and images in my slide decks, which makes me take a moment to breath and calm down. It also gives the audience time to think about what I’ve just shared with them. A couple of minutes into presenting something happens that changes me. I’ll go sit on a chair and start speaking to people in a softer tone - like we’re friends, and I have a really important message to share with them. The content I normally focus on allows me to do that, reach out to people and share a piece of my heart.
Mauritius Developer Conference 2017, C# Corner Annual Conference 2017 New Delhi
[I have} absolutely nothing written - I just don't have time for it. Once my slides and demo are done, I think about the presentation flow, try to make some sentences, think of examples and scenarios, or even think about some jokes during my free time, like when travelling to work. But, most of my speech comes when I'm on stage. This gives me flexibility to adapt my session to the audience, and time during the presentation depending on the level of engagement with the audience or any other unplanned events.
Microsoft TechEd North America and Europe, Ignite
I write things out in advance quite often to make sure I know how I want to express my thoughts. What’s in your brain is not the same as what comes out of your mouth so this is helpful. But I don’t use that during my talk and I also don’t attempt to memorize anything.
The talk is FOR the audience, so they are the most important factor. I want them to walk away inspired that they are on the right path and eager to learn more. Channeling Nancy Duarte, every talk should be about making each member of the audience a hero. Not the speaker.
ALM Summit, Microsoft TechEd, Microsoft Developers Conference Cairo
One of the important points that you should consider, is the position of your session in the schedule. The more later you are in the conference, the more people [will be] tired. So you should be very energetic in order to transfer this energy to them. Moreover it should have a...refreshing introduction that re-energize their minds, and attracts their attention.
I always say that session delivery is like any other onstage performance. So you should perform like a clever actor. The clever actor always makes people feel his role, is [his] real character. Try to be very confident, passionate, convincing [and] easy-going, but not fake. The audience will feel that you are fake, and they will feel that [your] message, idea, [and] theme are fake too!
This text has been condensed by the MVP Award Blog.