Boston Code Camp: Part II

On March 25, 2017 I attended Boston Code Camp 27 at the Microsoft Technology Center in Burlington, MA. This is the second part of the notes I took from the sessions I attended.

After the Hololens talk I ended up taking two sessions on presentations.

The Cure for Boring Presentations

The first was The Cure for Boring Presentations by Rick Pollack “The Presentation Medic.” Rick started his talk explaining that he used to work for Motorola and in one meeting, while he was droning through a long list of product features, his customer actually fell asleep! After that he decided to take some speaking classes. He now offers lessons so that others will not suffer his same fate. As you’d expect from a good presenter, there was more than just the text of his slides.

From my notes:

  1. Give your audience a reason to care. Instead of mentioning features, describe the benefit (save money, save time, etc.) Diagnose your audience’s problem and prescribe them an idea.
  2. Your presentation should make a connection, establish a context, and your ideas should contrast where they are with how you can help them.
  3. Go through your slides and make sure there is a “you” rather than me focus. For example instead of saying “My software runs 33% faster,” shift the focus to “You’ll increase processing speed by 33%”
  4. Use hyperlinks within your power point slides around key topics in case they catch interest and you have to skip ahead. Clicking a link is much smoother than hitting TAB 36 times.
  5. Number your slides for easy navigation.
  6. Forget the Jargon and use simple language.
  7. Don’t use the slides as a teleprompter.
  8. Instead of hand outs make a PDF they can download later via URL or QR code.

Rick also advised in always framing your presentation in the form of a story. Our brains are hard wired for stories and the information they convey will last longer. Be a confident guide while you spin the tale of who, what, when, where and why they should care what you have to tell them.

Put your audience’s situation that makes them uncomfortable with the status quo. Describe the situation they would find themselves in before and after an upgrade or what they will be facing with or without your idea.

Filter and distill your content. Only include what data is necessary to support the story. If you were trying to sell a muscle car to a guy who loves engines don’t bore him brake-pad details, focus on the horse power!

Finally, your “Big Idea,” the big take away needs to be memorable, repeatable & tweet-able.

ScreenCasting 101

Betsy Weber (@betsyweber) from Microsoft gave a quick half-hour presentation on screen casting. Each of her slides consisted of a funny GIF from giphycat over a bullet point of advice she had learned the hard way.

Before you record:

  1. Write out your script or at least have an outline.
  2. Turn off background programs like Skype, Slack, Steam, Discord, etc.
  3. Gather and prepare all the materials you will need.
  4. Practice and do a dry run!
  5. Clean up/off your desktop! Minimize the distractions you have to compete with.
  6. Use the now blank real estate of your desktop to enforce your brand!
  7. Clean your browser history to avoid not only embarrassment but also eliminate another distraction.
  8. When moving your mouse SLOW it down! No one wants to have to concentrate on that tiny pointer zipping around.
  9. Pause your recording when you need a break.
  10. People wont tolerate bad audio. Try pulling a comforter over your head while recording audio to reduce ambient noise.
  11. Write the script, record the audio, record the video in that order! Then combine them in editing.
  12. For a microphone you can get a Blue microphone from Amazon for around $50.
  13. Spring the $6 for the pop-filter. It makes a big difference.
  14. When recording audio, stand up and make gestures. Sitting down constricts your diaphragm and you’ll sound better.
  15. Don’t drink soft drinks or milk before recording as it will make you sound Phlem-y.
  16. When recording audio use a clicker, tap the mic or just be silent for a moment to “mark” the audio histogram to make editing easier. Think of it like the clapboards they use in films to mark a scene.

Some screen capturing tools you can check out include:

  • Jing – Free but imposes a time limit.
  • Snagit – $50
  • Camtasia – $199