Sunday, July 22, 2007

Day 3 - Presentation Day

I'm a little behind on this post. 2 Red-eyes in 1 week has messed up my sleep schedule.

The tough thing about presentations is that you usually only get 1 shot. Thankfully, the folks at eLearnDevCon gave me 2 for the Captivate sessions.

Session 1 was 80% Captivate users. THis seriously disappointed those who expected me to teach them Captivate during the session - particularly this one old man who seemed really out of his element. I have a feeling he didn't understand 3/4 of what happened in the conference.

I kinda let this guy get to me.

One of the attendees came up to me after the session for moral support:

You know - he was really out of line. You shouldn't have let him get to you. We got some GREAT information. And you did a great job adapting to everyone's questions and the flow of the session.

Such is the risk you take when you open up the sessions. I had a plan, but I wanted to make sure the majority got what they needed. I figured you ought to take advantage of the face-to-face format - questions and interactivity.

Taking the feedback from the first session, I made some adjustments. The second session went more smoothly - in my mind. Of course, I also didn't get the same level of give and take as I did the first session. Partially because everyone was in post-lunch coma. Partially because it was the last session of the conference and everyone was thinking about their travel plans. Still, it was well attended and I got some great feedback.

At the airport, I ran into a fellow presenter. We were kicked off our US Air flight onto a SouthWest flight for the leg to Las Vegas.

Yeah, my first session was pretty rough. I felt much better about the second session.

Even after rehearsing, I found that it is tough to predict how that first audience is going to react....

For those of you who are experienced presenters, do you have any tips for making the first presentation less nerve-wracking?


Karyn Romeis said...

My heart goes out to the guy, too - it's very disappointing not to get what you hope for out of a conference, but perhaps he should have done his preparation beforehand. To a certain extent, you should remind yourself that his learning journey is not your responsibility - it's his, and he needs to drive that bus!

If the majority of people are expecting something different, perhaps you should change tack and give them that - after checking with everyone that they're okay with that, of course. If it's just the one chap - and it often is - you might just say frankly to him, "It seems you're expecting something from this seminar that is slightly different from my remit, but I need to cover the points outlined in the blurb to meet these folks' expectation. However, if you hang around at the end of the session, I'd be glad to spend 10 or so minutes with you. If I can't answer your questions in that time, I'll certainly either point you to some resources that can, or email some further information to you when I get back to my day job.

Whatever the case, you learnt from that first session, so you were driving your learning bus, too - which is as it should be.

I think it's probably wise to be a bit nervous before presenting, it gives you an extra energy boost. Whatever you do, don't try to suppress those nerves by standing still of clenching your fists - you'll end up vibrating like a plucked guitar string. Disperse the extra energy through gestures and movement instead. Also, don't try to overcome the nerves by avoiding eye contact - that turns the audience into a vertigo-inducing sea of pink faces. Eye contact humanises the audience.

My 2p worth.

Janet Clarey said...

Karen makes some excellent points and I think I'll add a star to this post so I can review her comments and yours when I need them.. Ya know I always say...if you've done one presentation, you've done one presentation... You can prepare and be flexible and all that but inevitably you get "best presentation ever" evals and "sucky" evals. Sigh. I do love your enthusiasm and concern for all learners - keep it reach more people than you know.

Dr Bob Cherry said...

As those above have said - you've got some very interesting ideas and they are certainly catalyzing a lot of thoughts over here. I've never "got" blogs but I've registered with yours.

How sessions go is hard. Over the years I've gone in very well prepared to conferences and it's bombed .. and done little or no preparation and it's hit good. this is a common experience. Enthusiasm for the subject is key - you have this. Strangely I find that being one step ahead of the learners is best. If I am too far ahead I lose the enthusiasm for the subject that I have when I meet it for the first time - but that's me.

There are techniques for dealing with "difficult" members of an audience. Key is not to let them undermine your confidence. It is natural for a good teacher to go into self evaluation mode and look to what you've done wrong in order to correct. Occasionally - you might just stand back and think "he was out of line here"