Thursday, July 31, 2008


Everyone of us in this corporate world of IT has sat through boring presentations now and then. All presentations start off with the presenter introducing herself, going through boring slides and slides of information (some of them very very verbose!) and some rather banal charts, graphs and figures. Yawn!! If that's not enough they exceed the time limit given to them and assume that the audience is still interested!

In my 5 year career in IT, I have been lucky enough to sit in a very few interesting and lively presentations. The one thing common that I have found in most of them (my personal observation only!):

  1. The presenter is humorous and has a pleasant personality. However boring the topic is, the presenter is the key to making it pleasant. Trust me, I have sat through a 3 hour presentation on Project progress and never once yawned :), all thanks to a fantastic presenter.
  2. Slides are succinct and do not have a lot of verbiage. One thing that I have noticed in most presentations is that people tend to read the slides. If the presenter is trying to make a point, there is no reason for her to write it down in the slide. It just takes away the attention from her!
  3. Great presenters stick to deadlines. 15 minute presentation? Finish it in less than 15 minutes. Period. You are wasting the cumulative sum of everyone's time. If you can't present in the time allotted to you, it just means you aren't prepared. Audience are giving you their most precious resource (their attention!) and you aren't prepared for it?

Well, I am no good at presentations myself, so technically I do not practice what I preach. But then, I am making a conscious effort in the right direction, and if there are any like minded people, I thought I as well help.

So, what triggered this blog post you may ask? Well, I sat through a presentation today and it was funny to see that the presenter referred to another presentation made by Dick Hardt in OSCON 2005 (almost 3 years back!). This happens to be one of my *most* favorite presentations of all time. 15 minutes of presentation on a rather *techie* topic delivered flawlessly. Best example of the 3 points that I mentioned above. I know the video is rather long, but you have to see it to believe it!! I have embedded a link from Youtube here, but you can always stream the video from Identity 2.0 website.


  1. One of the criteria to be a successful Manager is to have good presentation skills..maan u've learnt that in less than a week's time...bright future ahead:P
    Neway it's interesting and informative as well. Thanks for being the only source of our intellectual nourishment:)

  2. I think I am one of those slide readers... :(

  3. Nice post. Personally, I think it is important that the speaker engages with his audience and he/she can do it without being funny and even without smiling. Its very irritating to sit through seminars where you are left wondering if the speaker is talking to the audience or to the screen!

  4. GS -- I agree. Eye contact is one of the things that makes people sit up and listen. I suggested humor because, I feel humor is one of the easiest ways to engage your audience. The first few minutes of ice breaking can be done best by making them humorous so that the audience starts listening to you. But then, its my opinion after all, and like I said, I ain't no good presenter :)

  5. Anonymous -- I am a long way from being a manager. (I still dont wanna be one :) !!) Everyone needs to present, not just the managers :)

    Smita -- Everyone reads slides. We are conditioned to assimilate as much information as we can get :)

  6. Very impressive ... enjoyed the style of his presentation, it's awesome. Thanks for sharing:)