16 January 2016

Delivering first tech talk

It will be a challenge when a person is presenting his/her first technical topic to a group of people. I presented my first technical talk almost 6 years back to a crowd of 20 people. Presented my second tech talk almost 4 years back. Despite both of these talks had considerable amount of technical depth in them, they failed to strike to audience.

Recently I presented an another topic on PRG pattern used in Web Development, it was well received by the audience. So I thought I do document some of the things which helps to deliver a effective talk, keeping in mind someone who is presenting his first tech talk / presentation.

Without much ado, let's get started.

Plan presentation for not more than 35 to 40 minutes

Try to limit your presentation for not more than 35 to 40 minutes. Because it is difficult to hold the audience for longer duration especially for a tech topic.

Keep it interactive

Don't talk to yourself or just to presentation screen. Find an opportunity to keep the audience engaged. Don't keep Q & A session to the end. Q & A session at the end is best for an experienced speaker facing a larger audience, but could be tricky for the beginner.

Take examples relevant to your audience

Explaining a topic with an example is good. If you choose an example which your audience can easily relate to, then it will be very effective one.

Recently when presented a PRG Pattern to bunch of .NET people, for that I had taken an example from internet site. Because all of the audience were my colleagues working in the same company, they could grasp the concept easily, because the example I took was familiar to them.

Show demo

Apart from running through your ppt, allot time for live demonstration of the concept. May be "Helloword" kind of examples are good at explaining a new concept. If live demo looks difficult at the facilities provided, then playing the short recorded video is a good idea.

Acknowledge if you don't know something

Though you have prepared extensively for your presentation, there might be an another person who knows already about topic you are presenting. If he / she points out some mistakes, then acknowledge it and thank them. Later proceed further without much ado.

Review your presentation deck with your friend from target audience

Reviewing slides with some one else will help to correct spell mistakes, remove content repeat, etc.

Rehearse the presentation

Rehearsing the presentation in front of your bedroom mirror is not bad idea, but that is not what you are going to do that on your presentation day. Rehearse with your computer instead. Run through the ppt slide and the demo in tandem at your desk. Pull in your friend to this exercise if he is free.

Don't keep too much expectation

As you are gearing up for your first tech talk, don't keep too much expectation from it. Because it might put you in tension.

Mistakes are bound to happen especially the first time. Learn from them going forward. Because your first presentation is not your last presentation you see!

I HOPE, this pragmatic approach towards preparing for your technical talk / presentation will help in your efforts.

Your comments are always welcome with wholeheartedly!

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