Kevlin Henney is an independent consultant, trainer, reviewer, speaker and writer. His development interests, contributions and work with companies covers programming, people and practice. Lately he became and expert in advanced techniques for online presentations. He has been a columnist for various magazines and web sites, a contributor to open- and closed-source software and a member of more committees than is probably healthy (it has been said that “a committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled”). He is co-author of two volumes in the Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture series, editor of 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know and co-editor of 97 Things Every Java Programmer Should Know.
Kevlin started his professional career as a software developer and instead of giving speeches he started writing articles for user group magazines being motivated for sharing the knowledge and explaining things. One day he was asked to do a presentation in a user group event, that was at 90’s so he did create slides, printing and putting them in acetate for projectors. A whole different process but really a great experience.
After that Kevlin started to talk in front of more people and later being invited to conferences but more importantly he enjoyed every experience more than writing because of the interaction with audience.
The challenge of speaking online
Kevlin is a very physical speaker, in the sense he uses a lot the space on stage. So the change to online presentations and webinars have been a little hard.
For him the more challenging aspect is to make a connection with the audience.
Some few things he learned that helped him to improve this are:
You need to respect breaks
Use your hands to speak. Move them.
Use the frame, use visual feedback to identify the frame and use your hands to fill it
Be punctual and control your time. You may not be the only speaker in an online event.
Finally, make mistakes. Do practice as much as you can to learn fast and improve.
Kevlin’s best pieces of advice for not usual presenters
First of all, just make sure your lighting is reasonable, do not sit in front of a window. Natural light on you is helpful but the idea is don’t sit in front of a window, high contrast and all the rest of that.
Second, if you are going to share slides consider having a two monitors set up. When you’re sharing your screen if you have a second screen makes it a lot easier, you can say that one screen is what people see and the other what you see and where you can have other things (chat, slides, etc.)
Third, know the environment, there are a lot of platforms for conferences, so get used to them: where the buttons are, what the queues are, what the chat looks like, etc.
Fourth, have a backup plan. Get your phone close just in case the connection fails or for having a direct contact line with event organizer.
Kevlin’s best pieces of advice for advanced presenters
When talking about advanced techniques for online presentations, maybe you want to include a video clip in your talk? well do not use embedded video, it’s always problematic. But if you still want to do it be sure to adjust any setting needed for having a good reception in the other end.
Make it clear how you’re doing communication to people, for example, for Q&A. Always make the Q&A at the end.
However optionally you can keep the chat open for people write things and you can choose to take questions as you go or incorporate observations, etc. But above all remember you are doing a talk not a conversation.
If you allow other people to comment or participate in the talk be sure to lead the meeting and do not lose control of the talk.
Have a clock on the wall or the table. Put attention to time, especially if you are in a different timezone of your audience. Be able to track the time.
Related: Rock the Tech Stage
“Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when it’s the only one we have.” — Émile-Auguste Chartier
Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon
The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
Routine to Shine
There is one little thing you can do to improve and become a better speaker: Get a good night of sleep. This very simple thing makes a massive difference when you are dealing with people.
But if you prefer to try something different then you should do something that have nothing to do with the work: walk out, run or get alone. Just disconnect yourself. Give yourself that, you need a break going from a presentation to another.
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