Tonight I got my session evaluations back from PASS for the first large presentation I have ever done. I am somewhat surprised by the results, they are actually much better than I expected.
I definitely have a number of things to work on as far as public speaking goes. Paul Randal gave me a number of tips while I was still at PASS that I have made notes to try and pay attention to the next time I do a presentation. Some things Paul pointed out were:
- When someone asks a question, repeat it back so that the entire audience can hear it. Then when you answer the question everyone knows what you are talking about.
- Purchase a remote to control your slide deck, allowing you to step away from the computer. One of the limitations on crowd interaction I had was that I was tied to the podium controlling my slide deck. Paul Randal recommended a Laser Mouse.
- Set the fonts inside of SQL Server Management Studio larger than the defaults. I believe that 14 point was the recommended size, and it is definitely easier to see on a projector.
- Even after doing the above, install ZoomIt by SysInternals and then learn how to use it effectively. Most of my demonstrations were plagued by standard font sizes that were impossible to see unless you were sitting on the front row of the presentation.
- Mix demonstrations into the talk at logical points instead of performing them all at the end.
- Always have a watch and know the amount of time that is left in your session. I was very lucky to have Andrew Kelly sitting on the front row of my session and he noticed that I had no idea about where I was time wise in the middle of my presentation. He provided me fifteen, ten and five minute warnings so that I could complete my session timely, something for which I am extremely thankful.
At the recommendation of many people in the community, I have located a local Toastmasters group that I hope to work with to learn how to be a better public speaker. One thing that I would like to be able to do is mix the occasional humor in with the technical content, something I am sure I could do, if I was more comfortable while speaking. I don’t have any expectations that I would be anything like Buck Woody, but would like to be a bit less dry when presenting.
To those that attended my session and rated it, thank you. Hopefully with a bit of work, I can transform this graph more towards the Excellent side of things.