Many of you know that a few weeks ago I started writing for Artem Marchenko’s Agile Software Development Blog. If it wasn’t for that commitment to Artem, I am not sure if I would have posted anything the past few weeks. This post is one I delivered last week while in London for the Agile Business Conference. I am reposting here for the benefit of my Leading Agile readers.
Delivering a Great Presentation
This week I am in London attending the Agile Business Conference. A few weeks ago I got to attend Agile 2008 in Toronto. Over the next few weeks I will be at the APLN Leadership Summit in Atlanta, the PMI Global Congress in Denver, the Vancouver Agile Conference, and the Better Software Conference down in Orlando.
That is a lot of conferences, a lot of speakers, and a lot of presentations.
If you are delivering a talk over the next few months, especially one that I am attending, please ask yourself the following question: are you are talking with the audience or are you talking at the audience? It is not enough to tell me what you think, you need to make me part of the conversation. Great speakers engage their audience, they show empathy, and they understand what their audience needs to take from the experience.
They deliver value.
Sometimes speakers are content to just get through their 45 minutes and be done with it. It is as if the audience does not exist. Far too many speakers don’t know how to really listen to their audience. It is the speaking equivalent of having a big up front design and following your plan to the end. As speakers we need to be able to adapt to the changing needs of our listeners.
In other words, You need to embody the change you are speaking about.
Here is an idea to consider… why not think about your talk like you would a software project? You could prepare your outline to be a high level roadmap… a vision if you will for where you plan to take the audience. Have a prioritized backlog of key points you want to make and information you want to deliver. Deliver your talk in short iterations and seek feedback from your audience. Adapt based on what you hear. Always… always… deliver value.
To hard? Maybe, but that is why you were asked to come talk in the first place!