I have to admit that I find giving presentations to be kind of a crucible for me. In addition to the typical stage-fright, I also have some generalized social anxiety that comes with having Asperger Syndrome. So I really am pushing myself when I give presentations, and the Online ColdFusion Users Group (OCFUG) is a bit daunting too, because the presentations are rated on the site and most of them have ratings between 4 and 5 stars. So it's a real casual, low-pressure thing for me (not). ;)
I do however hope that my presentation skills are improving with practice. Whenever I give a presentation I try to use it not only as a marketing opportunity but also as an opportunity to improve my presentation skills. So I think about what I presented and how the presentation went and I try and look for things I can change for the next presentation to help me ramble less and give you guys more to take home.
Last Thursday I gave an onTap framework presentation for OCFUG and it seemed to go fairly well. You can check out the recording of the presentation if you missed it here. This was an intro presentation designed for you guys who might be new to the onTap framework. So if you're already using the framework, you're not likely to learn anything new, however, I think there were some good takeaways for me in the presentation. The last presentation I gave for OCFUG on comparing frameworks received only 3 stars, so it was a little below the average for that group, although the site doesn't tell you how many people voted. One of the people who did leave a comment mentioned my tendency to ramble a bit, so when I did this presentation I decided to pre-record the audio for a few of the slides, about 10 minutes of the presentation to make sure there would be plenty of time leftover for demonstration and questions. It seems to have worked pretty well, although it's harder to guage here than in person because there's not as much direct feedback. This presentation received an extra half-star, so I feel like I'm making progress. And I got this email from someone who attended to help me work on future presentations:
isaac, first let me start by saying that i didn't get much out of your presentation, primarily i think because i'm overloaded on frameworks, not because of anything about how you presented. that said, I am pretty good at critiquing, hopefully in a positive way.
i think that the recorded 10 minutes worked okay. could you script and practice more to get the same results live though?
That's good news. It worked. :) And yes I'll work on rehearsing more. Not sure if it will help, but I'm working at it. It's a much bigger investment of time for me to memorize the lines, but maybe I should.
installation is something that i often have difficulty with, so on one hand I really appreciated that you went thru it in so much detail. on the other hand, i'm not really interested in installing something that i don't know anything about. i think if you recorded the installation piece and made it available separately for someone to d/l and use later, it would be very valuable. for an overview preso tho, i'd have rather seen you go right to the framework and how it works. that would have given you more time on the framework and for questions.
More good news. Lets me know that there certainly are people interested in the hands-free installation. Maybe I can get into more detail on the framework features with another presentation.
i thought the two chat windows, one for questions and one for 'chatter' was an excellent idea. i think it would work well for all the speakers. the chatter window sorta gives the class the ability to whisper quietly in the back w/o interrupting the speaker. sometimes someone in the audience can answer something while the speaker continues on. i know i lose my place easily and would be really distracted by all that. (i need to send this comment on to charlie too.)
Right, that was done primarily for me, to help me make sure I covered all the questions. It was something that Charlie and I had seen in other Connect presentations, though changing the name of the 2nd chat pod to "questions" seemed to be eluding us.
So I'm thinking about giving a couple of follow-up presentations at this point to give more in-depth information about the framework's features. Some of the topics I'm considering are:
- Form Tools - easier, bigger, better, faster and more secure than xml forms with CFForm
- AJAX - widgets like tabsets and trees as well as partial-page rendering
- How to Write a Plugin - explains how to package up an application for automatic installation into the framework as seen in this presentation
- Customization - how to future-proof your plugin tweaks
Looking back over my previous presentations for the DataFaucet ORM tool I realized that both of those presentations had been given 4.5 stars (1 2), which is a pleasant surprise. I think I'd forgotten that. So I'm hoping that these more in-depth presentations may also be similarly received. Are there any other subjects you'd like to see me present on?