I love this time of year. There is so much activity, and buzz in the Salesforce office. Dreamforce hangs in the air, just like the fog on the bay. Here in the bowels of the Force.com crew, we have whiteboards tracking project progress, draft workbooks being edited, reviewed, and debated, iMac being imaged with all of this years goodies for the DevZone Labs (I’m already missing the iMac which has been my companion on my desk for the past few weeks. It’s off to be imaged for the zone), t-shirt proofs, session dry-runs, photoshopping (I’m thinking of airbrushing abs onto Sandeep) and much, much more..

Did I say I love this time of year?

During this time of the year, I do a LOT of dry runs. Some of the main things I look for in dry runs are:

1. Was the content presented in a way to tell a story, and give me two or three things which I will remember?

At most of conferences, there is so much going on, it is easy to get overloaded with information, especially on technical sessions. It’s nearly impossible to teach someone Objective-C programming in 45 minutes for example, and expect them to walk away from the session knowing where to start when they crack open their laptop. Running through the dry runs, and creating my own presentations, I always remember what one of my university lecturers once said, “I can’t teach you everything about [topic], that’s not my job, what I can do is skim a stone across a pond of [topic], with the skips, and ripples hopefully enticing you enough to dive deep into a particular area of interest.” 

Here is an example of a presentation I did for my graduate work recently which I think reflects this idea well. It tells a story, doesn’t assault you with bullets, or facts, and makes the topic emotional, all with few enough words, the entire presentation could fit into a few tweets. (note: this presentation has nothing to do it I.T. and was intended to be that stone skipping across the pond, enticing someone to dive in, and want to learn guitar)

a) Did I learn something new?

This one sounds simple. Did the session teach me something new? I want to walk away from a session with at least one note furiously scrawled in my notebook, or tapped out on my iPad that I didn’t know before. This should be something that I want to download, and try for myself as soon as I get a chance. These are things which I remember about a session, not a marketing pitch, not a screen full of code, just a simple bit of new knowledge. Good presenters know how to deliver that bit of knowledge in a memorable way; that is the tricky part.

I am always on the lookout for great presentation and innovative ways of delivering knowledge. In the end, that’s what it is all about.

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