Monday, 15 July 2013

Red Earth Geospatial's 10 Steps to a Successful Presentation at ESRI UC (or any other Conference)

10 Steps to a Successful Presentation #Esriuc #EsriCanada
Being at the 2013 #esriuc in SanDiego we have noticed that some of the presentations can go wrong for various reasons. Our discussion within the #RedEarthGeo pod identified that the most common reason besides not showing up for the seminar and having it cancelled, is poor preparation. Don’t get us wrong, we know that there are a lot of great presenters and topics out there that do knock the geospatial socks off of our chicken legs, but we do have to bring up the point that some do not succeed in creating a great presentation. For those GIS Subject Matter Experts with the guts to even present in front of your peers at an ‪#‎Esriuc‬, good on you, as that is the toughest step to take. Here are 10 general ideas for those who have decided to step up to the podium: 

1. Leverage the #ESRI speakers seminars early on (if not prior to your presentation) in order to take the free advice given from past speakers and those with greater experience to help curb the jitters and increase your confidence and professionalism.

2. Have your presentation local on your machine, especially of you are linking to a video or some other outside source. That internet connection could go down, then what? Contingency plans for contingency plans are the best way to minimize risk.

3. Speak slowly and clearly, and from your gut. There are a whole load of people listening to you from different backgrounds, and not just from North America, but Japan, Oman, China, Lebanon, Kenya, and pretty much anywhere on the globe. You may be the one with the funny accent, so keep it slow and clear and others will be able to follow.

4. You know your subject, you are the SME (Subject Matter Expert), but do you know your audience? They are the attendees that have the same career interests as you, yet you may have 10 years, others may be new and have 3 years, while others may be grandfathered in at 30 years. No matter what, keep your presentation at a level that appeals and is understandable from the new to historic attendees. 

5. When presenting, ensure that you are telling the attendees one thing and show them many captions, images, data charts, process maps, tables and maps on the screen. The sad truth is that most of the attendees remember some of what they hear, not all of it, but because the majority of GIS and Geospatial careers entice spatially and visually minded people, they can recall and put it all together from the maps and images on the screen. Keep it simple, remove the acronyms and focus on one main idea and eliminate everything that doesn't support that idea.

6. Take business cards to create a network with your peers. The people who attended the presentation have similar ideas and passions (they came to see you, the expert in the same field). 

7. Make yourself available after the presentation to discuss your subject and answer question to the introverts that did not want to ask in front of the group.

8. Show up on time. The attendees are there to see you (which means your confidence should be at a high and nervousness at a low), you are in command of the podium for 20 - 30 minutes, all ears and eyes will be focused on you. This is because they want to learn, they are not there to judge, but to get insight and get assistance to the same issues you have probably come across in your own journey. 

9. Stage-fright, at some time in your life you have probably come across it, even if it was in grade 3. Re-label negative feelings as positive ones. Consider your symptoms of stage fright not as an indication of nervousness but more along the lines as a sign of excitement or anticipation.

10. Last point, and the one that you will remember. You don't look that nervous when you are on the podium. Speakers self-assessment of presentations is often overly tough and the real time self awareness is harsh (and typically untrue) . Assume that you look calm and relaxed to your attendees and you will. 

Good Luck and have fun, this may be your 15 x 15 minutes of fame!

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