Hi Friends,

I am very fortunate to get multiple opportunities to speak at global conferences like Microsoft TechEd US, TechEd Europe, TechEd India, SQLBits Europe and this time I am speaking at PASS Summit too in Seattle in Nov 1st week. Over the years I have learnt many conference presentation tips and I want to share them with through a series of blog posts and videos. In this post, I talk about 5 presentation tips that you can follow when you speak at your next conference.

Tip 1: Check the screen from every corner of the room

Even the most seasoned speakers sometime put a piece of content on their slide which is not visible from the last row of the room or from the first seat right at the corner of the first row. And then there is an embarrassing moment when someone from the audience shouts aloud: “can you please zoom in?”

Make sure, at least a day before of your presentation day, you check your decks, demos, etc from every corner of the room. Schedule a check with the conference organizers. You know your room, connect your laptop with their system, open up your deck &demos on the screen, walk around the room with a presenter and flip through every slide and try to see it from every corner of the room. If there are issues, fix them, check them again. And you can save yourself from asking the audience “Is it visible form the back?”

Tip 2: Test your equipments, all of them!

This is no-brainer that you should connect your laptop to conference equipments and test everything; screen, switch boxes, power outlets, etc. But I want to ask a few questions here:

  1. Do you want to zoom-in on your powerpoint slides? If yes, and if you are using the conference desktop to project your slides, have you tested that zoom-in tools like Zoom-It is available there? And is it already running in background? (so that the shortcuts work when you want them to work)
  2. Are you using your laptop for the demos? Most probably. And when you go for a test your laptop has enough battery and you don’t care to take out your power adapter. On the final day, when you take your power adapter, you realize that the socket does not support your power adapter (mostly happens to international presenters)
  3. Your laptop is HD and supports a very high resolution. Unfortunately the projection equipment does not. Have you made yourself comfortable with the low resolution? Have you practiced demo-ing your stuff with low resolution?

And there could be many more such little things that you should take care of. In a nutshell, test everything, end-to-end!

Tip 3: Carry a backup laptop

You will realize the importance of this only when you fall into a situation where just before your presentation, your laptop decides to give you the biggest surprise of your life. And you stare in limbo asking yourself: “Why?”

So make sure you have your own backup laptop or from your fellow speaker or track owner. It’s a life saver!

Tip 4: Please use ZoomIt :)

Now even audience know about this tool :), almost each one of them!

Tip 5: Use a Presenter

There are tons of these tiny devices available, almost everywhere. A wireless presenter/pointer helps you to walk freely on the stage, come close to the audience, make eye contacts, etc and it all looks very professional. You don’t have to be glued to your laptop to advance your slides. This is a must if your presentation is power-point heavy!

I hope some of these tips can be helpful to you before you make your next presentation.

Want to watch this in action? Watch here!

Amit Bansal
SQL MCM, SQL MVP
Director – eDominer Systems, Peopleware India, SQLMaestros

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