The amount of good content in the Microsoft WebCasts is quite amazing. The conferences such as VSlive, Tech Ed, Code Camps and Dev Connections are great too. Of course there are the occasional duds, but overall there is a lot of good content in there. For me, what sets apart a good presentation is not only the content but also the effectiveness of the presenter. OK, we are all pretty geeked up and excited about VS.NET 2005. Now imagine Alan Greenspan presenting Generics or ADO.NET 2. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz See my point? Even the most awesome topics can lose their audience if the presenter is boring the crowd into a deep sleep.
There are entire classes on being an effective speaker/presenter, but I'm just going to focus on a few things that are no brainers to me that I have seen a lot of quite recently.
- Look at your audience. Don't avoid eye contact and turn your back on them. This is an easy way to lose their attention.
- Don't sniff into the microphone. Yes. I have heard this recently by a well known and very competent developer/presenter. It really grossed me out enough to the point where I could not listen any more.
- Avoid saying "um". If you don't know what to say, say nothing. A short pause is fine.
- Avoid long pauses. If you are waiting for code to run (often the case), make sure you have something pertinent to talk about to fill in the time.
- Don't make off color jokes. You really don't want stand in front of 100 people in a room and make an inappropriate joke (or worse, have it recorded). I've seen it and it can turn ugly..