Paul Glen wrote a funny little list of things not to do when giving a presentation. While most are fairly obvious (and correct), I don’t quite know if I agree with all of them. I know it’s not a good idea to stray from topic but really, he contradicts himself a little. You should stay on topic but if you follow what Paul says, you should also gauge your audience to see if you’re hitting the mark. In my opinion (and experience) you need to improvise from time to time.
It’s also interesting to note his point on keeping opinions away from a presentation, especially when presented as facts. Mr. Glen goes on to say an audience member gives a presenter 30 seconds before determining whether the presentation is worth their attention (hard thing to prove — sounds a little like an opinion to me…). He was trying to emphasize the importance of a strong opening. For anyone attending Eric Evans present at XPAU in 2004, you’ll probably agree on how inaccurate Mr. Glen’s assessment is. Eric opened quietly, meandered for a few minutes before finding his stride. I was happy to have the chance to meet Eric afterwards (while signing my copy of Domain Driven Design) and let him know how incredible I found his talk. There wasn’t a strong opening and if memory serves, not a very ‘strong’ closing. Just a talk comprised of really, really interesting Domain related experiences and findings.
As with everything, take the list with a grain of salt. It’s still nice to see folks in the industry pointing out the importance of a good presentation. I, for one, love delivering presentations on the things near and dear to me.