June 22, 2009

Presentation revelations from PCamp



Where do I begin to describe the fabulousness of PresentationCampLA?

The space: airy, open and inviting.

The people: creative, talented, smart, funny.

The presentations: intriguing, entertaining, eye-opening, memorable, brief!

There are definitely improvements that can be made next time, but overall, this was by far the most satisfying, fun, and valuable conference I've ever attended. And I'm not just saying that because I helped organize it (with Cliff Atkinson and Colleen Wainwright)! There were fewer than 40 people, and the contributions from everyone were dense with practical usefulness and relevance. And I've certainly never experienced this much laughter at a conference!

Here's a snippet from Gena Haskett, participant and video guru, taken during our opening introductions where we asked the group what they wanted to learn and what they had to offer:



We enjoyed discussing such topics as incorporating Twitter into presentations (Olivia Mitchell), "Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes" (Andy Goodman), how to get published by a traditional publisher (Cliff Atkinson), how to handle hecklers (Olivia Mitchell), mind mapping (Cliff Allen) how to use video and interviewing (Gena Haskett and Tracy Pattin), using stories, incorporating acting techniques and much more! No presentation was longer than 30 minutes. Perfect.

One of the most fun and energizing parts of the day was Cliff Atkinson's visual improv exercise (if you have his new edition of Beyond Bullet Points, you'll find this exercise on the CD). It's an exercise where participants add to an ongoing story based only on an image on the screen, which changes every 30 seconds. The brilliant conclusion to the activity came from Colleen Wainwright: "The measure of a man is not in the length of his PowerPoint but in the depth of his message." Colleen is obviously an improv queen!

My big revelations of the day:

1) I no longer hate the idea of incorporating Twitter into presentations. I was highly resistant to this idea before hearing Olivia Mitchell and Lynn Langit (from Microsoft) share their experiences and discuss management strategies to using Twitter but not letting it take over the presentation.

By the afternoon, I was asking in sessions, "Is anyone tweeting this link? Post it so we can all find it later under the #pcampla hashtag!"

Most of my audiences are not techie folks and are not yet using Twitter this way in presentations. However, it's an idea that I can now understand much better and would like to experiment with.

2) I CAN get a book written! Well, this I already knew, but I've been paralyzed with indecision, not knowing where to go next after the writing part. I've been considering using certain categories in this blog as a starting point, but feel overwhelmed by my 800 posts.

I learned that simply hiring an editor can solve this problem and get me on the path to publishing. What a huge relief to get this piece of information!

3) Sometimes I just need to sit back, listen and absorb. I am a rabid notetaker. I carry a notepad with me everywhere in case I think of something I need to remember. My memory is definitely not what it used to be, so I always take notes in presentations.

Well, at PCamp, I just sat back and let the experience wash over me. I listened, absorbed, asked questions, made suggestions, did what was needed, and didn't take a single note all day. I did fear that I would forget important aspects of the day and in fact, while processing the conference on the drive home with hubby (who spent the whole day with us taking pictures and video), I really thought I would never remember everything I needed to.

But the next day I started writing down what I wanted to remember, and it -- mostly -- came back. I can't say this is necessarily a good idea for every conference, but I felt that it was in the spirit of the day, creating as we go along, to just be in the moment.

I've been going back through the #pcampla tweets that people contributed throughout the day and finding some great gems there. I recommend checking out these notes if you want a taste of what was shared.

Gena has also posted a brief clip from my presentation on engaging the audience and making presentations fun:



There will be more pictures and more videos to come. We have started something that is certain to continue in southern California for years to come. The camaraderie and learning that happened on Saturday was magical and organic, and I hope we can create this energy time and time again.

See you at the next PresentationCampLA!

2 comments. Please add yours! :

Cliff Allen said...

It was a pleasant surprise just how many true experts were at PresentationCampLA who were eager to share their expertise with the others.

I found myself taking lots of notes in everyone's session -- there's a lot to know in order to be a top notch presenter.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

No egos, no drama, no competition. A really great experience of camaraderie and sharing.

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