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I attended the NetBeans day at Hyderabad, and I came out with some pretty interesting discussions, meetups and lots of positives. From what I heard from the audience, Roman Strobl has become a celebrity. His style of presentation and humor was appreciated by all. The audience loved his presentations. Last year, Roman’s good friend, Geertjan Wielenga, had a similar success.

However, as always, there was one presentation which was humorous, for me atleast. Collabnet, the company behind Subversion, had a talk. Their presenter started off very well with defining Collabnet’s objectives and it’s lineage. A very crisp presentation. And in 10 minutes he finished his slides (right on schedule) and handed over to some Subversion contributor from Chennai (the only one in India). And this guy winged the whole presentation. Far removed from the reality of the composition of the audience (many were students with only a cursory knowledge of SVN), this guy rambled on and on giving obscure examples (no, they were not added to the slides, so you really had to follow him through the labyrinth of his examples). This guy must be a fantastic engineer, but he surely came a cropper as a presenter. People around me first became disinterested, then groaned, then some of them slept in the cool air conditioning. And people like me, who had better things to do in life, got up and left, for good.

I see this problem time and again, mostly with Indian speakers. They speak too fast, they fill up their presentations with tonnes of slides (without any graphics or anything to keep the audience interested), and almost none of them add spice to their talks with humor. And yes, most of them forget the audience. They find some nodding heads in the front rows, and then the whole session is presented only to those nodding heads, be it a presentation in front of 70 or 700 people. They will stick to their monologue, blurt out their stuff and go away. The audience sleeps, or leaves.

Please guys, time to learn some presentation skills. Think out of the box, you are not presenting a paper at such conferences. There are better ways to get your message across.

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