Why I Give Presentations

Today I gave a presentation at WordCamp SLC 2011. It was titled “Demystifying CSS & WordPress.” I’ve uploaded my slides, and hope you all will enjoy them.

I’ve now given several talks at several groups and conferences, and have learned a lot about giving presentations. Two of the biggest things I’ve learned are first: the quality of a talk is (almost) always directly relational to the amount of time spent preparing. The second is: great talks always require a great deal of preparation.

By the time I had given my second presentation, I realized just how much time these presentations take. Several weeks before the presentation, usually 3-4, I would spend just a week of evenings on research. I’m not that smart of a person, but fortunately there are brillant people all over the internet who publish their findings. After putting together all my research, I’ll spend another week or two in my spare time putting together the slides. Then, the final week I’ll spend practicing and modifying my slides. I usually run through my slides start to finishing 5-6 times (at least). For a 50 minute presentation, that can take a lot of time. While I practice I’ll add, change, and re-order slides so they flow much more smoothly.

All in all, I spend anywhere from 20-30 hours in total preparation. My day job keeps me really busy, so I only have time for this at night. That is 30 hours I could spend playing a video game, or doing side work, or spending time with my wife, or so many more things. So I had a decision to make. Do I really want to prepare 2-3 presentations a year?

I decided “yes,” because after each presentation that I put a lot of work into, I get comments like this:

Amen! RT @RickGalan: @JustinCarmony Dude, your preso was awesome. Looking forward to reviewing on your site. #wcslc

Then, tonight at the “after-dinner” with attendees and speakers, I got this email:

Just had to say thank you so much for a great presentation today – You made CSS approachable and a possibility to learn – thank you!!

I feel like if I pick up the book you recommended there might be hope for me after all! 🙂

all the best,
Kayla

These comments and others told to me in person make it all worth it. Not that I feel special, but I love helping others learn. I have the battle wounds of learning a lot of these technologies, and helping others to learn them more clearly is awesome.

So thank you, all my attendees and listeners! Thank you for all the “Thank You’s”, and I look forward to giving more presentations in the future.

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