How to make great presentations for a training session

I observed effective methods used to make an excellent presentation while attending uberconf - software technical conference. I will share some of the best practices and tips to create an outstanding presentation for a training session.

1. Communicate the Goal.

State one or all of the following.

  • Goal of the presentation
  • Agenda of what you will learn in the presentation.
  • What will be the takeaway at the end of the presentation.

You need to make sure that they feel that spending next hour or so in this training is worth their time.

2. Try to Start with an exercise

  • It can be as simple as stating a problem, situation or a use case related to the topic and ask participants to write about it.
  • For example If training is about software architecture fundamentals
State a business problem and ask participants to identify which architecture characteristics (like scalability, reliability, responsive, etc) should be satisfied to solve the problem.
  • Depending on the number of attendees, ask them to form a group.
  • This not only creates audience engagement but prepares their mind to think about the topic.
  • If participants are unfamiliar to each other, it also helps them to introduce each other and socialize.
  • If possible, re-visit the exercise towards the end of the session to show that they can now better solve the exercise after learning through the session.

3. Answer Key questions in Introduction

  • In Introduction answer the questions like
 What ? definition of topic.
 Why ? this topic is important.
 How ? we can do something.
  • Example for topic Software Architecuture fundamentals.
What is software architecture?
Why software architecture is important for project?
How to design good architectural solution?

4. Properly organize the material

  • Make sure the content is well organized into sections and there is a natural flow of one section to next.
  • If each section is linked to one another with a logical reasoning, it’s easy to recollect the entire content from beginning,
  • Example for topic Software architecture fundamentals?
1. What is Architecture?
2. Why software architecture is important ?
3. How to design good architectural solution?
  3.1 Transforming business requirements to architecture characteristics
  3.2 Various Architecture patterns and how it influences architecture >characteristics.
  3.3 Pitfalls and antipatterns.
4. Summary.
  • It should pretty much be told like a story.
  • Stories are typically narrated with many surprises to keep audience engaged. But rather than surprises, throw them an open question and tell them that you will get to answer at end of the session or they will able to figure it out themselves as a result of the learning.
  • Example on Software architecture training.
     Present the business requirement and an architecture (It should have some flaws, but should not be obvious)  and ask them what is wrong with this architecture? Pause momentarily, But don't wait for an answer. Tell them we will get to it at the end.
      Towards end,  Present the same business requirement again ask if they can identify the flaws and  come up with better architecture.

5. How to keep the audience engaged?

  • Tell a funny joke.
  • Tell a short story.
  • Show some funny pictures.
  • Play some funny or interesting video related to the topic.

6. Tips to Make it stick

  • Use analogies whenever possible. Analogies help to associate new concepts with already familiar things. So it makes it easy remember.
  • Use famous quotes from other people. Quotes can shrink huge message into a short verse.
  • Convey single message / tagline about the topic.
  • Give some handouts to take with.
  • Use live demo when possible.
  • Make them practice with hands-on exercises when possible.

Further Reading

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