As you might have read on my brand-new Twitter biography, I love to talk about web to print workflows.
Having the opportunity to do so makes me very nervous about two weeks before the event takes place. This is where I start preparing myself for the talk. Going through the slides (or create a whole new set of them) and remind myself of what I want to talk about particularly. Every talk is different, even if it was about the same topic or the same project.
The next event will take place next week in Bern, Switzerland. And I am in the middle of going crazy about it!
Will the presentation be clear to the audience?
Will I be able to give the presentation an exciting twist for the audience?
Will the audience ask questions I cannot answer?
These are questions I am carrying around all the time.
Last time, I got only positive feedback, so it seems they understood. Also, they nodded while I was speaking!
Last time, I saw the audience taking notes about what I said and they looked up when I raised my voice at some point!
Last time, I was able to answer every question and I even discussed some after the event to go into more detail.
And these are the answers I am keeping in my head, just in case I am going to explode because of the dangerous mixture of fear and joy inside me.
As soon as the event comes closer and closer, I get calm and more realistic about it. I face the seriousness of the situation and I keep preparing for the event like never before. I practice the talk inside out. I practice it so much, that I don’t want to hear any word about it anymore.
Time to reflect on previous “talks”.
Some time back in school I had to give a presentation. My mother told me to put on a shirt and a jeans instead of a hoodie and baggy pants, which I was used to wear. My teacher met me before school started and asked me what was wrong with me and my clothing. If I had to go to a funeral later on. I told him in return that I was going to give a talk about the Games Academy in Berlin. He wasn’t expecting that I dressed myself so exceptionally well for the talk I was giving to the class and him.
When I started the talk, I was pushing out the first one or two sentences, I had them practiced for weeks. Right now, I can’t remember them, but I still have the full text (yeah, I wrote the full speech down and took the keywords out, which I then put on cue cards) somewhere.
The talk went exceptionally well and I got an A+ for that talk. I had never given such a well-prepared presentation before and the feedback I got was amazing. When I looked at the others giving their presentations, I felt proud for wearing a nice shirt and jeans instead of a hoodie and baggy pants. And I was also proud, that I had prepared the talk and myself so well.
Much later in school – just before I was about to graduate – a classmate asked me to be the host of our artistic evening – An evening full of acts like singing performances, sketches and acrobatics.
“Haha” was what I said. But then, she gave me a list of the planned acts and in my mind I was already making up a plan of what to say. I told them, that I would write the moderation cards, but I ended up on the stage as well. Giving a talk. And, hell yes, I got an upgrade as I was wearing an awesome suit!
The preparation started about six to eight weeks early, so I had plenty of time preparing the talk and the moderation cards. Once again, I wrote down the full program and reduced it down to a hand full of cards. And by the way, I missed to put a rather long transition on those cards. I stood in front of the audience, took a deep breath, looked to the ceiling and was about to say “Well, you know, students forget to do their homework sometimes. I forgot to do mine right now.” But having it practiced it so much, I was able to derive it from my mind.
After the show, which by the way was introduced by Lenka’s awesome song “The Show”, I sat down in front of the stage. The janitor came straight up to me, while the audience was leaving. He put his arms on my shoulders and said: “Well, you know… I was a bit concerned about the whole thing. And this is why I let you in the assembly hall only twice to practice your whole show. If I had known about this awesome thing you had put together, I would have left it open for you all the time! I would like to help you with the teacher’s dinner you are preparing and give you some money for it, so you can grab some buns and that kind of stuff.”
I was exhausted on the one hand, I was frightened by the gesture of the janitor, whose hand I had never shaken and I was happy that it was all over. Parents of students lined up to thank me for that evening, which I had led. And I really loved sharing this appreciation with the whole team of about 40 people, who took part into the whole thing.
Next day, I somehow got to school – tired as a dormouse – surviving two hours of English class. I headed to the kiosk the janitor was used to run in the breaks. He did not expect me to appear there. He said something like “Hey man, you look tired! What do you want?” I got a bun and a bottle of water to pull myself together. Every now and then, I got a pat on the back, followed by a “Great job!”.
I might do that at some point again, as I really enjoyed the whole preparation time and the moment it was all over again. I was to nervous to remember a single moment being on stage.
Back to the upcoming talk.
I just checked back with Heike who will be giving the talk with me next week. She loves the slides, which is a very good sign! I put some punch lines on the slides every now and then, but I also stick to a lot of icons and images instead of a lot of text. I think I did a pretty good job on that one (compared to the last ones).
We also came up with a TypeForm, so the visitors can give feedback on the talk, on us, eventually sharing some information about them with us. That is by the way an idea I came up when I discussed event preparation in the Buffer Slack Chat.
We are going to change our presentation a bit, so we have more like a conversation in front of the audience. Doing it this way might allow the audience to have a better understanding of what the intention behind the whole project is. And hey, come on. If you were about to do the same thing over and over again, you would vary it as well, won’t you?
I am looking forward to the event for now. I am getting calm. Just to go off as soon as I publish this post.