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Technical presentation advice

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RoleReversal

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Post Wed May 06, 2009 7:46 am

Technical presentation advice

All,

I've just been signed up to give a technical presentation at a local event for IT professionals. The presentation slot is 15minutes, subject is my experience with malware honeypots (specifically Nepenthes), I'm not too concerned about the subject material as it's fairly introductory and overview level, but this is my first presentation so I'm a bit nervous of the situation.

Can anyone offer advice to make the presentation go more smoothly and with less perspiration?

Thanks in advance
Andrew
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vijay2

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Post Wed May 06, 2009 7:52 am

Re: Technical presentation advice

The only advice I can give or given to me when I was appearing before the SANS presentation training was to speak slowly and clearly.


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don

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Post Wed May 06, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Technical presentation advice

Heck, after an intro by the group, telling the audience about yourself and what you are going to talk about, that's half your time already. Is there also supposed to be time for Q&A? 15 minutes will be a breeze.

Know what you know and also what you don't. Seems strange, but go with me. Knowing the subject is your basis for confidence. On the flip side, don't pretend to know what you don't. If someone asks a question for which you don't know the answer, just say you don't know but would love to help them find out. Or if they ask about a feature you haven't used, again... simply say so.

Another hint is when you are at the podium, pretend you're at a conference, at work, at a bar... anywhere you have had numerous talks with like-minded techs. I would assume these types of exchanges don't make you nervous? Just think of the room as a bigger meeting with other techs, just this time people are really focused in on what you have to say. And in a personal conversation, isn't that what you want? People to listen to you?

Hope that helps,
Don
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Post Wed May 06, 2009 11:07 am

Re: Technical presentation advice

15 mins? That's a cinch  ;)
Best advice I can give is to practice your speech, present to your colleagues or family at home, any live audience should do (dogs and cats might help too). This should help to get you familiar with standing in front of people and presenting as well as helping you deliver your content. It's also useful for timing your presentation as well as asking your attendees to provide feedback about your presentation and skills.

HTH
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Aristotle
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hayabusa

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Post Wed May 06, 2009 11:46 am

Re: Technical presentation advice

All good advice, above.

My first few presentations to the crowds took some getting used to.  There are few people who, on the first shot, feel totally at ease speaking to a group.  If they're a well-rounded crowd, and there's no bias aim'd at specific vendors, etc, in your material, I'm sure that they should be pretty open to what you've got to say.

I'll add that, assuming you know one or more people in the audience, whom you're comfortable talking 'tech' with, make it a point to glance their way, and, to yourself, anyway, feel like you're presenting to them.  If you know someone who can attend (and isn't already planning to,) ask them to come along.  Just having friendly faces calms a lot of nerves.

(Unless they're the jokester types, and make funny faces at you, etc.) 

Other things I've learned in my experiences:

- Short discussions (like your 15-minute one) are preferable to many crowds.  Often times, an audience loses focus listening for longer presenters, and their restlessness makes it harder to speak to them.  (Unless the speakers are really darned good ones, and have learned the lessons from experience at past events.)

- Visual - If you make sure you have good visual stimulii (screenshots, video demonstration, slides,) so long as it's well done, it'll complement and help drive home your points / messages, and if timed well, helps the audience in their note taking, etc, so they aren't trying to hard to keep up, and miss out on other important info, later on.

- Test any demo you plan to do a few times, both at home and at the venue, prior to the actual presentation.  I had a good friend who recently spoke to a crowd.  He was doing very well, and had everything in check.  The crowd was really paying attention, and he grabbed their focus right from the start.  Then he hit his demo.  The thing worked great the day before (he'd shown it to me) in his lab, and it worked great at a second location he'd given it at, a week or two before.  But, for some reason (technical obstacles at this venue, with wireless signal interference and specialized endpoint security were blocking out his equipment) he ran into some stumbling blocks, and his entire demonstration went out the window, leaving the end of his presentation dead.  He saved himself nicely, and finished up strong, but it was a shame to see him get that far, doing such a great job, only to stumble, because of an unknown, onsite factor.

- Finally, and you might not have time for it, this time, if you have someone you know that can run a video camera for you (or a tripod,) tape yourself going over it a few times at home.  Even though it's a little different than in front of larger crowds, it gives you comfort in how your presentation and material flow together, and you can 'test out' your timing, etc.

I think you'll do fine, and if it's more slides and general info than anything else, as you sort of eluded to it being mostly an overview, it'll probably be a walk in the park for your first go 'round.  I wish you luck, and let us all know how you fare.  Also, if for no other reason than knowledge share, if you tape it, whether at home or at the event, please feel free to share it out for all to see.  (ie - post it, and post a link in here.)  I'm sure there's good stuff in there for everyone to learn.

HTH and good luck, Andrew!
~ hayabusa ~ 

"All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved." - Sun Tzu, 'The Art of War'


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sgt_mjc

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Post Wed May 06, 2009 12:29 pm

Re: Technical presentation advice

My first presentation was to an auditorium full of E-8s and E-9s while I was a lowly E-5. Again, the best advice was already given, know what you know and what you don't. They will have far more respect for you if you are honest with them. Getting shnoockered before hand might help too ;). Good luck.
Mike Conway
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Post Thu May 07, 2009 4:56 am

Re: Technical presentation advice

Hi Guys,

thanks for the advice so far, all makes sense. Although I'm not sure pointing out that 15mins should be easy makes me feel any better ;)

For those of you wanting a laugh at my expense, I believe the sessions are recorded and youtube'd so I'll post a link when I have one. Alternatively, if there's anyone in the area (Newcastle, UK) fancies a good laugh in person let me know and I'll pass you the location details.

Think I might pass on the drinking beforehand though...

Cheers
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Post Wed May 27, 2009 12:07 pm

Re: Technical presentation advice

Guys,

thanks again for all the advice. I gave my presentation last night and, assuming everyone isn't lying to me, it seemed to go down well. Was genuinely relieved and thrilled with the amount of questions and comments generated by the topic (and the fact I was able to answer them all)

No body believes that I didn't bung the cameraman a small wedge of cash, but unfortunately the video camera's battery died just before I started presenting. As a fall back I've posted my slide deck on line, here. If I can explain any of it in more detail let me know.

I've also got a full write-up of the SuperModays event on my blog, while the rest of the event wasn't security related it was still an enjoyable and informative night. If you're in the area and you've not been to SuperMondays yet, why not?
Last edited by RoleReversal on Fri May 29, 2009 4:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RoleReversal

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 4:41 am

Re: Technical presentation advice

Turns out I jumped the gun, cameraman did manage to catch some of my presentation, but only the first two minutes. Direct link to footage. (Be gentle with me  :-[).

Super Mondays has also released footage of the other speakers and the event in general, not security related but interesting none the less if you've got some time to kill on a Friday afternoon, check it out here
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ants

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 10:46 am

Re: Technical presentation advice

Hey Andrew - That looked interesting, it's a shame that there was only a few minutes

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dalepearson

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Post Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:40 am

Re: Technical presentation advice

Andrew,

slide deck looks interesting, and I will have a look at the little stream later today.
I know we discussed honeypots a little on IM, but as I have only just found this post wasnt aware of your upcoming presentation.

I know you have done a presentation now, so I am sure you are super confident. My thoughts are be yourself, remember they have asked you there as your the one in the know.

Also if ever you want to do a dummy run, I would be happy to have a listen over the phone, or IM Video or something.

Keep up the good work.

All of this reminds me I am giving my lecture at the university next week. How time flies.
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dalepearson

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Post Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:00 pm

Re: Technical presentation advice

Just watched the clip, you looked at relative ease, and sounded like you were doing a good job.
Didnt look quite as nice as Roxy though :)
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hayabusa

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Post Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:58 pm

Re: Technical presentation advice

Looked like you were enjoying yourself, Andrew.  Glad to see that you made it through, even though we only saw a couple of minutes.  Congrats!
~ hayabusa ~ 

"All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved." - Sun Tzu, 'The Art of War'


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UNIX

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Post Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:56 am

Re: Technical presentation advice

Yeah, although only a short part was recorded I liked it. Good job. ;)

Will you do presentations in future or was this an experience which was nice for you but nothing you would like to be repeated? :)
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RoleReversal

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Post Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:56 am

Re: Technical presentation advice

Hi guys, thanks for the vote of confidence.

In all I did enjoy it, was *VERY* nervous in the run-up (going last wasn't fun), but calmed down and enjoyed it once I was up at the podium. I wasn't escpecially looking forward to it to start with, more one of those 'good for the career' situations but after having the experience of doing it once I'm definitely up for doing it again. I've volunteered to speak at the group again some point in the future, just need to find another topic.

<plug type=shameless>If anyone has an event in the local area that needs an additional speaker let me know :D</plug>

dalepearson wrote:Just watched the clip, you looked at relative ease, and sounded like you were doing a good job.
Didnt look quite as nice as Roxy though :)

Who's Roxy? And why don't I know ;). Thanks for the offer of dry run's, I'll hit you up next time I've got something in mind, offer goes both ways too. Good luck with the lecture
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