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Greenville Java Users Group

Presentation Tips

Last modified: 2015-04-10


GreenJUG provides many people with their first opportunity to deliver a technical presentation in a friendly, casual environment. It's human nature to think that the heat of a presentation will spur you to greater achievement. Generally though, the actual presentation goes no better than your practice sessions did - prepare well.

A good programming talk is very different from a sales pitch or corporate report. You still get points for interaction, but we don't much care how you dress, what images or font faces you use, or if you move around, blank your screen, or you use a remote.  Mostly we're thinking (in a friendly way) "How could I apply this?" and "Show us the Codez!"

Below are some tips to make your presentation a great one:

Have an Outline
People will only take 1-3 thoughts away from most talks. Figure out what three things you want to give your audience, present them well, and show a few details for each one. Leave the rest for another time. The clearer the theme is, the better the talk will be.
Plan for 1024x768 resolution with VGA or Mini DisplayPort
You don't need to bring slides or a laptop, but if you do, make sure it's going to work with the equipment in the room! Test the display port you plan to use in a calm setting where you have time to load drivers if necessary.
Use a high-contrast theme
Your primary text and background colors should be very bright and very dark (or vice-versa). If you have any trouble seeing your presentation in bright sunlight, we won't be able to see it either.
Use large fonts
Use at least 16 point fonts at 1024x768. If you keep your message clear and simple you won't need every word of your talk on the slides. In general, less text and fewer slides are better.
Arrive at least 20 minutes early
It takes most people that long to boot up, get the projector to recognize the laptop, enter the network password, and otherwise prepare to present. It's also important to have 5 minutes to breathe before starting your presentation. Regardless of what time your presentation starts, it still ends at 7:40.
Practice to fit within the allotted time
Time giving your presentation to yourself at home. Answer the occasional imaginary question. Take a video of yourself and watch it! Keep a clock visible on your screen as you present and pace yourself.
If you run out of time, wrap up.
Don't try to race through your last 45 slides in 10 minutes. Have some closing remarks that you can deliver in 5 minutes or less. If you get the out-of-time warnings, jump to your conclusion and take some final questions.
Consider making your first presentation shorter
5-30 minute presentations are just as welcome as 60-minute ones and often more fun for everyone invloved. Most people can do a good 5-10 minute presentation with little or no preparation. Longer presentations take more preparation. If you are speaking for more than 20 minutes, consider breaking your talk into 20 minute sections such as: 15 min. slides, 20 min. live coding, then 15 min. more slides, followed by questions.
Define Acronyms
Think about the variety of people who will be attending your talk. They probably all have different backgrounds from yours. Assume basic competence with one programming language (not necessarily Java), but no more.
Please Confirm