During my rehearsal presentation, I stopped dead in my tracks when I said “The Visual Studio Environment…” I had this mental image of the sign language interpreters signing something like “the Visual Studio rainforest.” After my presentation, the interpreters told me to ignore them as if they weren’t even there. I typed up my entire presentation, so they would have all the possible words I would use, but I’m still so nervous I’m going to speak too fast or say something like “lagniappe” from my native N’awlins tongue. As I walked out of the presentation room, one of them told me “see you later.” I replied, “no I won’t.” <grin> It’s all about denial.
Brian gave me a really good tip for presenting. Always stand on something, like a coin, bottle cap, or hat. It keeps you from rocking too much. Don’t ask me how it works, but I just know it does. I should find some mardi gras beads (or St. Pat’s Parade beads) and stand on them, as if I were back home on the parade route, stepping on anything thrown in my direction. You always step on something before picking it up on the parade route, because you don’t want your hands to get stepped on.
The most difficult aspect of doing the demos is describing what is happening in a non-technical way. For example, I have to explain the improvements that the ASP.NET Accessibility QFE provides, without talking about the changes in the HTML source. If I were talking with my peers, I would tell them here’s the source diffs and here’s how it affects customers. For whatever reasons, it really messes with my head not being able to talk about the HTML source diffs. I guess this is because I want to build credibility with the audience, like they won’t believe me if I don’t prove what I’m saying in a technical way, as if the screen reader reading the website wasn’t enough proof.
However, tonight at the final rehearsal things just clicked. I think it was partly due to the advice Brian gave me about “just talk and the words will come.” And I think it was due to it being the last rehearsal of a very long day, so I decided to just have fun. Brian and I are going to do some more rehearsals tomorrow morning. Our presentation is at 1:30 tomorrow. One of the marketing folks helping me fine-tune my presentation said, “we’ll turn you into a marketing person yet!” I took it as a compliment <grin>
Seriously though, I cannot stress enough how thankful I am to everyone who helped me put these demos together and helped me become a better speaker.