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Speaking at a Tech Conference: Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Speaking at a Tech Conference

We’ve been to many tech conferences – from Evoke in Toronto to Microsoft Build in Seattle (and many others in between). While many presenters hold titles like CTO and CEO, that alone doesn’t make them fit to take the stage – at least not until they understand what makes a presentation compelling.  

Admittedly, the X factor is a factor. But that doesn’t mean you can’t develop that X factor with determination and some practice. Here are a few of the common pitfalls (specifically for those in tech) and ways to combat them in your next presentation:

It’s too technical.

Yes, it is possible for tech presentations at tech conferences to be too technical. Whether you’re talking about quantum computing or blockchain 101, you can and should be incorporating real-life examples, anecdotes, and case studies to bring life into your presentation.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, presented the keynote at Microsoft Build ‘19 last week. He talked about using Microsoft Azure to improve digital offerings – which is all fine and dandy in theory. Until the cameras panned to a real-life demo of how Starbucks was doing just that. And the connection between Starbucks and Seattle was the cherry on top of an already compelling case study!

It lacks personality.

Presenting on stage is hard. For many, their focus is on getting over fears of public speaking and not tripping on stage – fair enough. But one crucial aspect of presenting that often gets overlooked is personal flare.

And that means showcasing your personality – whether that means being funny, light-hearted, quirky or nerdy. Because people can sniff out authenticity (or inauthenticity) from a mile away. This also means adding your own flavour to your presentation. If you’re a Star Wars fan, incorporate references to the dark side in your presentation. If you’re returning from a family trip, share that anecdote that made you laugh uncontrollably. The best part about adding in your own spin is that it’s yours.

It’s unoriginal.

While this one might be a no-brainer, it’s still as common as ever. Avoid presenting something that already exists on your website. For example, exploring use cases of how your clients have used your software is likely hard to come by online. And on the flip-side, a full walkthrough of how to install your software likely won’t attract a large (or engaged) audience. Add value wherever possible and bring your unique ideas to the stage.

So take a moment to think about these common pitfalls the next time you’re preparing for a tech presentation. If your content is engaging and you’ve infused your personality into it, your session is sure to be standing room only.

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