Kaizen: Thinking about presentations

| kaizen, life, speaking

I’ve just finished a presentation (The ITSC Guide to Conference Awesomeness) and I’ve got a few presentations coming up:

  • Remote Presentations That Rock (Feb 28 in person at IBM, plus virtual sessions at IBM)
  • Braindump: Note-taking in Org Mode (GTALUG, in person)
  • Learning on the Network (virtual, IBM)

I also plan to experiment with Slideshare’s Zipcast feature, maybe doing “Remote Presentations That Rock”, “Six Steps to Sharing”, “The Shy Connector”, and other presentations.

There’s always room for growth. Thinking about that last presentation, what worked well?

  • The tech check turned up some problems communicating with the hotel conference room, so I decided to go with a recording instead. Not as fun or as interactive as a real-time presentation, but if I’m not going to be able to listen and react to people anyway, I might as well record it.
  • Sketching the presentation was fun.
  • EasyPrompter was a great tele-prompter. It was much better than scrolling through a document myself. I put the webcam in front of it. I might look a little cross-eyed, but it does speed up the production of recorded presentations quite a bit.
  • It was a good idea to record the video and then use Rehearse Timings to capture the slide times. Saving slide transition times meant that I could change the slides (move the graphics around, for example) and re-record the presentation using Camtasia Studio without listening to everything again and again.

How can I make things better?

  • I can work on relaxing my eyebrows when I give presentations. They tend to go up even during non-emphasized parts of the presentation.
  • I can add more pauses when teleprompting.
  • I can get dimmers for the lights we have, or better yet, construct some softbox-type light sources. They’re ordinary daylight-balanced house lamps from Home Depot and they can be pretty intense. I’ve draped ripstop nylon over them to create a softer light, but it would be better to have a good setup. If I can figure out how to mount them easily on the light stand (they currently use clips which can be hard to position), then I can use our light umbrellas.
  • I can use something like Blu-Tack and a tripod to position my webcam more firmly. Or maybe find/make a stand for my webcam to allow me to position it in front of my laptop. That should be easy to build.
  • I can look around for a better “studio” location. Maybe the spare room upstairs? I can cover the wall and the door with fabric, and set my lights.
  • I can try using my lapel microphone, or spring for an array microphone.
  • I can try using Windows Movie Maker for chroma-key or picture-in-picture, if I can’t get Camtasia Studio to behave the way I want it to. I got a black preview screen possibly due to hardware acceleration, but there doesn’t seem to be a way for me to disable hardware acceleration in Windows 7. Also, I couldn’t get the picture-in-picture to show up in the top right corner, so I had to settle for the top left.
  • I can buy or build a proper teleprompter. (Ooooh.) But I’m going to try building a rig for my webcam and laptop first – maybe this summer, when we get our woodworking tools out again. Can’t wait!

Things I’d like to grow into:

  • I’d love to animate my sketches instead of using picture-in-picture video. That might mean starting off with video (to help establish personal connection) and then switching to animation or sketches. If I get the hang of drawing in a single screen instead of on an infinite scroll of paper, maybe I can do it as a screen capture or whiteboard video.
  • I want to learn how to do chromakey video (or frame-by-frame sketching if I absolutely must). Imagine being able to combine video and sketching in ways that make sense…
  • I should organize my past presentations so that it’s easy for people to see the different topics and resources.
  • Maybe I can make a routine of presentations so that they’re a smooth and regular part of my life instead of being a bit bursty (it never rains, but it pours).
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