Today has been a big day for me. I’ve given presentations before but typically to colleagues, or occasionally to customers. Never to a large group of technical people – some of whom will also be extremely knowledgeable on my chosen topics (perhaps using a competitive product) – and never at Microsoft’s UK Campus in Reading, where I have attended many presentations, but never presented.
Because this was such a big deal for me (and because I didn’t know who would be watching), I put a lot of effort into my preparation. I had virtual machine snapshots and demonstration screen grabs (just in case the demo gods decided that today was not my day) as well as full speaker notes (with printed copies just in case). I also used the presenter view in PowerPoint for the first time ever and have to say it is fantastic.
The notebook PC I was using doesn’t have an high-powered graphics adapter – just an Intel GMA 965 chipset – but the standard Intel Graphics Media Accelerator for mobile driver helped me configure multiple monitors (1280×800 on the notebook display and 1024×768 on the projector – both in 32-bit colour). After this, I switched PowerPoint into presenter view and the audience could see the slides (or whatever I was demonstrating on the projector), whilst I could view the current slide, my speaker notes (at whatever text size I wanted), thumbnails of upcoming and previous slides, a clock and an elapsed time counter (there’s full details on delivering a presentation on two monitors by using presenter view in the Microsoft Office 2007 online help).
Trying not to bore the audience with “death by PowerPoint” is one thing, managing to accurately type commands in demos is another and only experience will teach me how to manage audience questions to stay on track but the PowerPoint presenter view really helped me out today – I’ll be using it a lot more regularly now I know how useful it is.