I recently posted this on Stack Overflow, thought I’d repost it here too.
Some random advice on delivering technical presentations:
Consider your audience. Is it an all technical audience? If you have a mix of technical and non-technical people, it’s a good idea to start at a high level (conceptual) and then move into the more technical realms.
PowerPoint slides can be helpful if they are appropriate or if they illustrate a concept or help underpin a point you are trying to make. Don’t read from them, they should be used to jog your memory as you discuss your presentation. I like to use PPT slides as “palm cards”.
Is it a one way street? Are you going to look for audience participation? This can be handy in livening up the event. If people feel like they are part of a presentation, it can make people feel more at ease (and likely they’ll walk away with some valuable knowledge).
Beware the demo gods! Keep fully finished solutions/samples ready in case it fails on the day. Worst case scenario: screen cap a working solution. Don’t try to fix a broken example in front of people, it just looks bad. Apologise, present your fallback (finished demo/screen shots) and move on.
Finally, Regarding presentation delivery, here’s a few "generic" tips:
- Try to establish eye contact with the audience,
- speak clearly and ensure everyone can hear you.
- Know your material (don’t be surprised by content),
- Rehearse or at least walk through any technical demonstrations in advance,
- Use a "clean" Windows profile (if on Windows),
- Ensure Outlook and IM programs are closed (nothing worse than an ill-timed IM message)
- Ask for questions/invite comment (perhaps at the end if it is convenient)
- Provide handouts if it adds value
- Add humour if it is possible, it livens the mood of the audience if delivered properly a. Ensure your sense of humour is appropriate 🙂
- Ensure you have an introduction, a middle and a clear summary
Bonus: consider screen resolution, font size and contrast. People should be able to clearly see text from the back rows!