Tech Field Day has come and gone and now it’s sifting through the gallons of information that I received from all of the vendors. By now you’ve surely seen the list of vendors that presented, but if you haven’t here’s the list again: Symantec, Drovo, Druva, Xangati, NetEx, InfoBlox and HP. There was no shortage of information and at times is was a firehose of info, data, stats and etc. What separated the vendors was the quality of their presentations. Some of the vendors gave an A+ presentation while others were closer to a D-. That being said, I feel like only a few tweaks to the presentations that were D- would have made them A+. Hopefully this list of tips on giving an “A+ Presentation at Tech Field Day” will help past vendors understand where they went wrong, and set the bar for prospective vendors on the short list to present at the next Tech Field Day.

Death By Slides
If you’ve ever been to a Tech Field Day event, you know that there is an ongoing competition to see who has the least amount of slides. You want to win this competition, trust me. Ok, there is the obligatory marketing guy that is usually up to bat first and he packs the slides, that’s a given. When you are the technical guru, chief architect or lead engineer; dont’ get up there and read through 20 slides for an hour. Getting up and reading through slides automatically transforms you into Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Wah, wa, wah, whah…” Make it an open discussion with very few slides; let your product and your expertise of that product speak for itself.

Make Your Point and Make It Early On
When attending a technology conference like Tech Field Day, you have to make a few assumptions. First, you are not talking to a bunch of 3rd graders, we know what networking is, we are professionals in our fields. We don’t need a history of networking or storage backups/restores prior to getting to your point. Make your point early, and spend the 2 hours expounding on your point, that makes for a much better presentation and discussion. Don’t waste your time and money spending two hours trying to get to your point, it’s bad for both the presenter and the audience.

Mention Gartner if You Want To Get Booed
My goodness, take my advice on this, do not under any circumstance speak the unspeakable word that starts with a G. This will get you booed, as evidenced by anyone watching the live stream of Tech Field Day. Don’t even have a slide with a quote from the “company which shall not be named” as this will bring boos as well. we are not industry analysts and we don’t care what they have to say about you or your product. instead show us how you are by treating us professionally and tell us who you are by standing behind your product regardless of what industry analysts have to say. Some of us have traveled from across the globe to hear from you, not from some analyst.

Be Prepared to Showcase a Good Demo
Demos are a delegate’s best friend. If you have a product that you are presenting to the delegates, bring a demo along and showcase it to us. Many of the vendors had great demos that went off without at hitch, while others experience technical difficulties and very inopportune times. Symantec had a great demo of their NetBackup 7 for VMware vSphere that was very interesting, while Druva had a demo of their InSync laptop back up software that wasn’t very good due to the fact that they didn’t have a fast enough network connection to showcase it. Be prepared, make sure you have connectivity that suits your demo first, please, we want to see it work.

Swag Never Hurts
It’s nice to visit a company and get some swag to bring home. On my desk sits a mug (hand-made by my 3 children for Father’s Day 2010) that is filled with pens from about 20 different vendors. I have several water bottles that sit on my desk and at home. After attending VMworld 2010, I came away with 30 t-shirts, 15 of which I gave away. No, I don’t just want free stuff, I want to talk to people about your products and my experience with your company. Every single t-shirt and pen has led to a conversation about where and why I got it, which leads into more tech talk. I’m not saying you need to make sure every delegate leaves with an HP Slate (ahem, HP), just make sure we leave with some swag that we can wear, use or put on display so we can talk about you.

Pay Attention to Twitter Before You Present
Twitter is one of the best social networking tools available to the Tech Field Day delegate. I've actually taken a break from Twitter to focus more on my writing, but it is a useful tool. By following our Twitter feeds it shows us that you are paying attention. Xangati sponsored our party on Thursday night and up on our arrival there were plates of bacon and chocolate covered coffee beans. Why? Someone tweeted how nice it would be to eat bacon and coffee beans during presentations. Kind of dumb, but Xangati showed that they were listening and this was a big plus for them. Pay attention, it will pay off.

Know Your Audience Well
Make sure that you have a good idea of who you are presenting to when you are preparing your presentation. Get a general understanding of what we do, where we do it and what we want to hear about. Tech Field Day 5 was focused on the datacenter. It would have been a waste to come in and talk about wireless technology. Get to know each delegate ahead of time. Know our names, read our blogs and make sure to comment on a specific post that you liked or disliked (constructive criticism is welcome). We appreciate that you’ve taken the time to get to know your audience and in turn we will take the time to get to know you better, and will be more engaged in discussion during your presentation.

For Goodness Sakes, Learn to Spell Gestalt
You spelled Gestalt wrong (Gestault), you know who you are, enough said

Leave Ample Time for Questions
A couple of the presenters at Tech Field Day did not leave enough time for questions, or tried rushing from one topic to the next without fully satisfying some of our questions. This was a complete shock, and is not acceptable. The time allotted to each presenter is not meant to be jammed with as much info as possible without an d Q&A time. We want to ask questions and we want a rebuttal from you. Make sure to leave dedicated Q&A time for the delegates.

Make it Memorable
The last thing you want to go at Tech Field day is be forgettable. As a presenter you want to make sure that you are not easily forgotten. Either your presentation is super engaging, or the presenter’s personality is off the charts (Drobo man!), just make sure you leave your mark so we remember what to blog about when we get home. You want us to remember you, it will only make your content more vivid when posted on our blogs.

Summary
Hopefully these tips will point you in the right direction if you are presenting to the Tech Field Day delegates. Trust me; reviewing these tips will make it better for everyone involved. These are long 12+ hour days for the delegates; make your 2-4 allotted hours worth our time and efforts. If you were a presenter, or are a prospective presenter at any of the upcoming Tech Field Day events, please feel free to contact me for more one on one feedback or tips. I’m looking forward to hearing only A+ presentations at future Tech Field Day events.

Greg W Stuart
Greg is the owner and editor of vDestination.com. He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He works as a Sr. Consultant at VMware and resides in Northern Virginia, 15 minutes west of Washington DC.

3 thoughts on “How To Give an A+ Presentation at Tech Field Day

  1. As a delegate at Tech Field Day 3, I can totally concur with everything you mentioned! I hope future sponsors will use this post as a guidebook for preparation!

    Great job – thanks!

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