On the vexed question of the ideal frequency for posting to blogs, Problogger’s Darren Rowse suggests it “varies considerably from blog to blog” (June 2008). I’ve been tardy with the frequency of my posts recently, not because I haven’t been writing. But because I’ve been busy writing presentations.
More to the point, I’ve been busy writing, practising and delivering presentations for two conferences. I’m not shy of public speaking and enjoy the adrenaline rush of improvising. But I find it more satisfying to put together and nail a presentation, especially when the subject and audience sit a little outside my comfort zone.
For me, it’s akin to crafting, polishing and publishing a good piece of writing.
How Joomla Helped me Build a Website for Writers, Readers and Publishers
My first presentation was for the Joomlashack Conference, a three-day online event in early November 2019.
It was on a topic close to my heart: how the Joomla platform had helped me build the Tall And True writers’ website. And, as I often do with my writing (see the Repurposed Writing blog post), I repurposed a talk I’d given earlier in the year at JoomlaDay Australia.
However, this time, it was a webinar event instead of speaking in front of a live audience. So the audience could hear me and see my slides, but I couldn’t interact or improvise with them.
When I gave the talk at JoomlaDay Australia, I had a thirty-minute slot and delivered it to time. I had thirty to forty minutes for the Joomlashack Conference, and on my first practise, I blurted it out in twelve minutes. I took deeper breaths on the second run-through, slowed down my speech and the slides, and stretched it to fourteen minutes!
I’m forever pairing down and tightening up my writing as a writer and editor. And with a day to go until I delivered my presentation, I found myself adding verbiage to my slides. I also set up a live demonstration of Tall And True, hoping there would be post-talk questions in the webinar chat stream, such as: “What does it look like?” and “How does it work?”
Thankfully, the webinar went well. There were no glitches with the technology, my presentation padded out to just over fifteen minutes, and I had a comfortable twenty minutes of answering questions and doing demonstrations.
And if you watch the video on the Joomlashack YouTube channel, the last slide shows the sun even shone for me in my home office as I prepared for the talk.
Working with Children and Dogs
My second presentation was for the APDT* Australia Conference in mid-November (2019). In many ways, this was a topic even closer to my heart as it involved my son and my dear old labrador, Harry. (*Association of Pet Dog Trainers)
I’ve written elsewhere about Harry (My Good Muse on Tall And True) and the “Can I Pat That Dog?“ talks I gave starring Harry and my young son.
I’ve been training dogs and running classes for twenty years. I was repurposing slides from the school holiday activity I’d run in Sydney’s Centennial Park for the presentation. And I only needed ten minutes: this was an APDT Short Talk, a primer for the main event. So I should have felt confident.
However, this was also my first APDT Conference. And although I’ve been a volunteer trainer for twenty years, I only established my professional Robert’s Responsible Dog Training business this year. And I would be speaking in front of expert dog trainers and, as it turned out, international presenters, all highly qualified animal behaviourists.
Oh, and did I mention I would be APDT Australia’s first-ever Short Talk presenter on Day One of the Conference!?
Again, thankfully, despite my nerves, the talk went well. I shared what I’ve learned from working with children and dogs, there was laughter at appropriate moments, and I didn’t go over time. Although, after seeing the subsequent Short Talks and main presentations, I was grateful I’d talked first!
Lessons from Writing Presentations
As I said, I’m not shy of public speaking. However, I don’t stand in front of an audience without butterflies in my stomach. I feel them fluttering, but I’ve learned to embrace and enjoy the experience.
Stephen Keague says of presentations in The Little Red Handbook of Public Speaking and Presenting (Amazon link):
“Proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance.”
So, while I’ve been tardy with the frequency of my blog posts recently, setting aside time to write and practise my talks was worth the sacrifice.
Because when it comes to presentations, butterflies are one thing, but a poor performance from lack of preparation and planning is a far worse feeling. Hmm, it sounds like writing!
© 2019 Robert Fairhead
N.B. You might like to read more about dear old Harry in my writing about Animals on Tall And True.
Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of a dad and dog owner, Robert Fairhead. A writer-editor at the Tall And True writers' website, Robert also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads podcast. In addition, his book reviews and other writing have appeared in various print and online media, and he's published several collections of short stories. Please see Robert's profile for further details.