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Having spent 20-30 minutes looking for a blog entry on Advice to First-Time Keynoters, I’m going to quickly highlight it as well as add some feedback. Why? Well, I figure if I repost it will be easier for Google to find it no matter what search terms I use!!!

Before going any further…I’m far from perfect in the application of my own advice, so keep that in mind.

  1. Great presentation on presenting by Garr Reynolds
  2. Doug Johnson’s Choose Your Own Presentation
Advice I gave to a team member on a presentation delivered….


  1. Never rely on the computer provided to you, always use your own. 
  2. Download videos and play them locally, never rely on a wireless connection or trying to play the videos via the Internet. I keep a folder on my computer with videos, then insert them into presentations from there. I never move the video folder so that the file references are consistent.
  3. Start with a slide that highlights 3-4 points (max) that you will cover in the time you have
  4. Include one or more things you want people to do after each.
  5. Use video to illustrate your points and engage audience.
  6. Use more images than words…let images tell the  story.
  7. Plan for poor lighting and make sure your words stand out on your slides (e.g. yellow words on a light background fade out).

One of the most valuable observations I heard from anyone came from David Warlick, who said something along the lines that people are in it for the experience. This inspired me to make a different connection:

The presentation isn’t about transmitting information, it’s an experience that the audience must enjoy.

This makes the act of presentation an experience that must be worth having.

Reprint of Advice to First Time Keynoters:
Hmm…there’s so much advice out there on keynoting, presentations, but what I’ve found works for me:



  1. Skip the who you are stuff…get into the meat of your preso immediately. Someone will introduce you anyways. For goodness sake, don’t spend more than 10 secs on your blog or twitter, or important links…leave that for a final slide that will hang up there during questions or while you’re talking to folks who mob you after the session.
  2. Sprinkle relevant videos liberally through your presentation but be mindful of the time it takes to play them. People want to laugh and be transported.
  3. The presentation isn’t about transmitting information, it’s an experience that the audience must enjoy. That means, allow the video or information/facts you share convey drama, then you offer solutions to it.
  4. Use lots of images that capture your thoughts, the story…they should be obvious if related to a point you’re speaking to or mysterious, in which case, you use them to make a point about perspective, idea, etc.
  5. Forget the backchannel (twitter) garbage. It’s a waste of time and unless you’re skilled, it’s tough to manage it all. Setup up a chat or forum where people can participate, assign someone from the audience to monitor that…then, at the end of the preso, acknowledge their role (do it at the beginning, too) and ask them to share 2 questions from the chat/forum that they think is important.
  6. Do the same with uStream on #5…or carry an extra laptop to broadcast yourself.
  7. Remember to tell folks you will be podcasting this but spend no more than 10 secs on it.
  8. Let your story and passion carry you away. If they do, who cares what the audience thinks? Invariably, I’ve found that if *I* am carried away, a significant part of the audience is, too.

If you’re going to be bringing in Second Life to your preso, try to do it through video recordings/screencaptures rather than having to depend on in-house wireless/wired connections. Make sure your entire presentation can happen off your computer and isn’t dependent on any internet connections.

That’s pretty much it…run of the mill stuff. I suppose, #8 is the most important for me, then #2, then #4, if I had to prioritize.



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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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