Thursday, September 24, 2009

Presentation techniques

A beloved friend, suffering of insomnia, sent me a hyperlink to this article this morning (2:55am !!). I usually enjoy reading articles about presentation techniques as there are always few good hints that we all could use but much too often forget, and occasionally some excellent tips that we never heard before. The interesting thing about this particular article is that it focuses upon technical people, systems architects. Those hacks care about how to structure people organizations and computer systems to make sense to a given company; in other words, all the dough the CEO will spend on (computer) resources necessary to support his/her company, to really have some visible purpose and preferably yield material returns. That's what biz nerds call the 'ROI'. Easier said than done.

Problem is, most ICT frigtards, especially the so-called and often self-proclaimed "architects" (don't even get me started on evangelists), enjoy confusing their audiences. Many among them almost get orgasmic by listening to themselves spitting out a techie slang and a gazillion TLA's (Three Letter Acronyms...) that gets you nauseous. Everybody else in the room feels constipated, but those morons keep singing on! If at the end of the session they feel they haven't confused us as much, they go home and beat their wives; I shit you not! They intermingle concepts like components and CBD, coarse and fine granularity, services mediation, Entreprise Architecture, SOA (not the Dutch version, mind you*), EAI, adapters, wrappers, Enterprise Service Buses and more shit like this, and if you happen to be in their audience you better take some aspirins with you... or smoke a joint before you walk in, and... go to sleep by the time they kick-off their show with the nerdiest** jokes ever invented. To keep their audience awake, that is. OMG!

Anyways, the author of this article makes some good points... I'm not kidding you... all of his points are almost excellent. I dare say his ten point list sounds way better before he decides to jump into the burden of detailing each one of them. He gets a bit messy later, I'd say. Fine, sinner blessed after all. Honest, the arguments he makes are real good, and I'd even dare argue, not just for nerdy architects trying to get their obnoxious messages thru, but also for everybody else pitching in front of one or more anthropomorphic creatures sitting with their mouth shut and their eyes and ears wide open. I'm often teaching classes myself, and I can tell you, there have been times, especially during pm sessions - just after lunch -, when I kinda felt like I was the next best thing to Valium, getting my students to sleep, poor bastards... See? We can all learn from this.

Which reminds me... I participated in a two day conference last week, organized by the supreme ICT department of the European Commission, with the Commission CIO himself, Garcia 'Paco' Moran, present and keynoting, and with short appearances by the responsible Commissioner as well, as by his very own Cabinet chief too. Wow! Big shots, that we common civilians were humbled to see alive and breathing... Wonderful venue (at least we can now sleep happy for our tax euros are being put to a good cause), a splendid organization, the best midday snacks and sweets I had in ages, excellent speakers, extremely interesting agenda items! Great stuff! May they invite me to more of those...

The bad news is that there was this one moron among the speakers who made the terrible mistake to think of himself as the smartest skull living on Earth. He was a Dane... a Viking so to say. I generally like the Vikings, especially H├Ągar, but this dude was so full of shit that I felt (and I was not the only one, I heard later) like jumping off the window... I'm sure this was his last invite ever to a similar future event by DIGIT. He wanted to talk to us about Enterprise Architecture and he kept bullshitting about the term for most of his presentation treating us like first-graders. He spent about twenty minutes trying to convince us that EA should not have to mean Entreprise Architecture in the first place, but many other things that he was piss proud to have invented himself. I'm sure he was on his way to the European Patent Office in the Hague after his pitch. I thought the one that fitted him the best was the one I myself invented for the occasion, that is Extreme Arrogance. Which brings us to... point eleven of great presentation techniques: Make sure your audience don't think of you as the ultimate jerk. Don't underestimate their intelligence and don't just listen to thyself, but observe their bloody body language as well, for Chrissake! They might look like they're getting ready to spit on you, and this should mean something to you about the "effectiveness of your intentions", innit?


*In ICT, SOA means Services Oriented Architecture... in Dutch however, this stands for Sexueel Overdraagbare Aandoeningen (sexually transmitted deceases)... LMAO!
**One of the speakers kicked-off his pitch with this joke during the DIGIT Conference, because, he said, we all looked like we could use a few jokes: SQL walks into a bar and sees two tables and a row. He turns to the tables and sez, "Can I join you?" (laughs). In all fairness, that speaker, Miko Matsumura, was one of the best and he was definitely no Dane!

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