Title: How Developers Can Better Deliver Training and Workshops Date: 2013-05-08 Tags: howto, effectiveness, speaking, presenting, training

Note that this IS NOT a PowerPoint How-To. Read a couple of those later (by people other than myself).

What’s the Problem?

This past weekend, I attended the Kansas City Developer’s Conference (in Kansas City in case you didn’t have that figured out yet).

While I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and all of the sessions I attended, one thing that surprised me a bit is that I do not think most of the speakers had spoken in front of groups this size before.

That was very encouraging for me, as I was afraid the barrier to entry in this or any other event of this size would be way over my head, but I think I can be an asset.

But, it also leads me to this post. I was a bit amazed at how many times I saw the same mistakes repeated in each presentation or speech. It wasn’t true of every session or every speaker, nor would I say that one speaker made all of these mistakes.

Also, the only reason I know they are mistakes is because I have made them myself!

I have had the fortune of having some great mentors and coaches throughout my career so far; I’d like to share the things I’ve learned.

Where does the problem come from?

I’m not entirely sure, but I think it all starts with the lack of a feedback loop. I worry about suggesting that everyone should ask for feedback at the end of your presentation, but really, everyone should.

There were no surveys, no requests for feedback, nothing. Being that I love sharing my opinion, I gave my unsolicited feedback to a lot of people :-) And now, I’m sharing that with you as well. Well, that’s kind of your fault, you’re the one reading this! Going back over the KCDC site now, I see that Dusty Burwell and Boon Lee have added a link to give feedback. +1!

Couple that with the fear of speaking in front of people, a developer’s natural tendency will be to try to become a subject matter expert and put all of their effort into that, and not stop to think about how to effectively pass that information on to someone else.

Some simple items to include

So with that, here are some simple steps to improve your presentation or workshop. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are some of the recurring things that I saw this past weekend.

Preparing for the presentation

I kinda hate the DOs / DO NOTs, but that seems to fit here.

During the Presentation

Final Feedback

Instead, consider gasp pencil & paper! Or a survey at the very end.

A Closing Thought

As the note said above, this is not how to create an effective PowerPoint. There are plenty of tips and tricks around that on the web, and after you have considered the above, I highly recommend you read up on that.

But above all else, try to be mindful of your audience and do not run at full production speed. (Hello, pot!) Make sure that they are keeping up and are able to comprehend what you are saying. As mentioned in the book Slack and probably 5 million other places, people need to be able to practice first at a slower speed, be patient and slow down.