Public Speaking – Actually Not That Bad (Kinda Good Actually)

Last Thursday I did a short presentation on installing distributed vCAC at one of the regular London VMware User Group (VMUG) events.  This was, in fact, my first ever publicly delivered presentation and I have to say I rather enjoyed it despite being ‘somewhat nervous’ before the time arrived.

I was one of five people all presenting as part of the vFactor initiative designed to get more people from the VMware community to have a go at giving a presentation and, I guess, to encourage them to go forward and do more, longer, sessions in the future.  These talks were taster sessions at only 10 minutes long and, if I’m honest, this is the main reason why I thought I would give it a go.  After all, dying on stage for 09:30 is better than 39:30 for a regular session.

As it turns out, 10 minutes is really not a very long time at all to talk on a complicated subject such as vCAC and what I thought was a short deck of slides that initially took me 20 + minutes to run through had to be cut right down to fit in to the allocated slot I had! However, I did it, I survived and I enjoyed it! Of course, there’s always room for improvement and I think I took the following away…

  • It’s actually quite a lot of fun. I got a buzz from it and people came up and talked to me afterward giving feedback and asking questions. Turns out it’s a great way to get meet new faces.
  • I need to slow down a bit! I chose a subject that I really could have done a full session on and, even though it went well, it was more of a hi-light talk than a relates of comprehensive tips. Still, I ended up talking quite fast to be able to get all my slides in. Probably a bit too quickly for the information to really have got across effectively. There’s always next time!
  • Practicing on people who don’t understand the subject matter at all really helps with delivery.  I did the talk to my wife a few times and doesn’t have a clue what I’m talking about so was able to give me feedback on the delivery and pacing of the presentation without focusing on the content.  This was really very useful and, I think, stopped me from just reading the slides when I did it for real. I was still too fast but I was probably slower than if I’d not asked her for feedback.
  • Moving around the area (i.e. not just standing behind the lectern) really helped me relax. Seriously. I was concentrating on the slides and not standing still that I actually sort of blocked out the audience. This really helped me stay calm and probably was one of the reasons I ended up enjoying it!

I’m sure I’ll think of other takeaways but I can safely say I’d definitely do it again as it was a much better experience than I thought it would be.

I did promise to put up some of the common gotchas I was talking about when installing vCAC (or, now vRA) and these will follow over the next few weeks as additional posts.  I’ll try to cover everything that really caused us a headache when we attempted to install.  I’ll also try to update any information once my lab arrives and I get to try out version 6.2

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