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In your dream, you’re standing in front of a room full of dozens of people, presentation mouse in hand, about to present to them on (insert SQL Server feature here). You wake up in a cold sweat. You’re either terrified, or excited and terrified.

Are you ready to start presenting? Join Jes as she shares her secrets to building and giving successful technical presentations!

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  1. Jes & co., Thanks for the presentation. I don’t know if it was in response to my feedback on a recent post (how to write a resume) where I asked for something similar on giving presentations, but this is just what I was looking for.

    I’m starting to present in the IT community and think your presentation was a good 101 for beginners(content, delivery, etc.). I’ll remember it and share it with others.

    Questions:
    How important is entertainment value? You didn’t emphasize the importance of entertainment value (jokes, expression, passion). This is a common debate among my colleagues and I. While I generally look for content and recognize poor delivery, they seem to stress and critique ‘fun’ factor most. I think both are nice, but content is supreme. I’ll leave a presentation early if content is low value to me, but I haven’t yet when ‘fun factor’ or delivery are were sub-par. What say you?

    How much do you invest in your presentation prep? I generally follow a routine very similar to yours but it takes forever. At the end, I feel like I’m crazy because I invested dozens of hours or more preparing to deliver a 1 hour presentation on content I already know thoroughly. I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t do like I’ve seen done and just talk through a demo I can do blind folded. Time saving tips or some sense that my experience is common and improve after you’ve done it x times would be nice.

    Go wide or go deep? Does appealing to wider audience influence your topic? I tend to tell others what I wish someone would have shared with me. ie lessons learned the hard way. Isn’t it more interesting to most ‘recreational’ presenters to deep dive? I tend to want to avoid being the known as the guy who does stuff everyone can do or stuff they could have easily read. However, I’m starting to see that sessions with the highest attendance are often appeal to the widest audience. From those I usually walk away disappointed because I knew 90% of the material presented. Worse is that I expect the presenter knew enough to spend 90% of the time covering info I didn’t know.

    • Travis – congratulations! Presenting is exciting and rewarding. To answer your questions:

      Solid content and delivery should always take precedence over jokes or entertainment. The funniest technical speaker I’ve ever seen was Robert Bogue, a SharePoint MVP. However, he’s a professionally trained comedian – not everyone can claim that or pull that off. Don’t try to force jokes or being funny. Being enthusiastic and passionate about your topic will keep people engaged, and that is the most important thing to do.

      I spend many hours preparing for a presentation. Yes, it is a lot of work, but you need to put that time in to make it good. It’s very easy to spot an unprepared presenter. There are two points I can make here. One, once you’ve spent the time building the presentation, you can give it multiple times. The prep time can be spread across multiple deliveries. Two, the more you present, the less time it will take to build each presentation. Stick with it; it does get easier.

      It is entirely up to you if you want to present a broad topic or a deep topic. I can only tell you to present what is interesting to you and what you are passionate about. My basic SSRS presentation gets far more attendees than my in-depth filegroups presentation, but because I love both topics and both presentations, the quality of interaction, questions, and feedback is equal in both.

      Good luck!

  2. Hi Jes,

    I am interested in starting to present, but I haven’t owned a laptop in years. What kind specs would you recommend for a laptop so that you can run VM’s with SQL Server for the demos?

    Thanks,
    Mickey

    • Mickey, if you’re looking to run VMs, you’ll want two things – a lot of memory (8 GB is my minimum now) and an SSD. The SSD can be internal or external, but you’ll notice a huge difference when running a VM from it.

      Personally, I use a Lenovo X230. I love the Lenovo ThinkPads and would recommend them to anyone!

    • Mickey,

      I can highly recommend my current setup– it’s a macbook pro 13″ with an 2.3 Ghz i5 processor, 16 Gb ram, and a 512Gb Crucial SSD.

      I use VMWare Fusion with multiple VM’s on including a 2003r2 server with Domino 7.0.2, and 3x2008r2 servers with SQL Server 2008r2, Exchange 2010, Sharepoint 2010, and Windows 7, and it rarely lags.

      There are a number of windows laptops which should allow similar performance with hyper-v — but don’t buy anything that doesn’t allow at least 16Gb ram and put a fast SSD into it.

      Good luck!

  3. Pingback: Presenting Tips | James Serra's Blog

  4. Jes – I also recall either a web presentation or blog post of yours regarding setting up a technical blog. However, I can not find it and I did not bookmark it (shame on me!). Can you point me on the right direction, unless I am mistaken?

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