Yesterday, I gave a presentation to about 30 teenagers about the upcoming FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) transition from Robot-C to Java. I agreed to do it a week ago while on vacation. This meant I didn’t have any weekend days to actually write up the deck. I wound up doing it the night before. The concepts were fine, but I figured I’d have at least one mistake in the deck.
I proofread the deck in the morning and corrected some errors. But I still felt rushed and like I missed something. I wound up announcing at the beginning that I had two prizes for the first two students who found an error in the presentation. One kid did. (I had a redundant keyword in a method. It wasn’t wrong per se, in that the program still worked. It was non-standard and not what I wanted to show.) This student got a FIRST flashlight in exchange for his finding. Nobody else found an error.
I liked this technique, because I was that kid who saw errors when I was younger (and still do). I was left wondering what I should do with the info. Does the presenter want to know? Should I keep quiet? Will the presentation be given again? By stating that I wanted it brought up early on, there was no doubt. I think it also helped foster a culture of other questions during my presentation because I made it known that I wanted the audience to speak up when a doubt crossed their mind.
I’ve rarely use this technique at Toastmasters because most presentations are shorter and questions aren’t welcome. And when I’m giving a workshop for adults, I feel like they will speak up as needed. It went well though and I’m thinking I might try the “prize” idea again with adults in the future.
Last week, I met the CEO of Communication for Geeks at the NY SPIN where we were both giving 10 minute talks. While none of the above is specific to geeks, it is a nice coincidence that I had an interesting “communication” experience shortly thereafter.
Another interesting thing that happened was that this is the first time I spoke with an ASL interpreter. I only noticed two differences:
- The interpreter wanted to see the deck in advance to prepare. (Luckily she only wanted to see it 10 minutes before and not days in advance!)
- For the first few minutes, I was worried about talking too fast. I often speak faster than I should when presenting and was worried if I was going to fast for her. The answer was that I wasn’t. I quickly forgot about it. When asking afterwards, she said the pace was fine. I’m impressed with her buffering because she was always a few words (or more) behind where I was! Luckily, I do pause when speaking so there was time to catch up.