Presenting at a Salesforce User Group is a great way to showcase what you have built in Salesforce and to share your ideas! And giving a presentation at a user group is a good way to get warmed up for presenting at Dreamforce- or in front of your company. However, if you don’t present a lot giving a demo or presentation can be stressful, so let’s look at some tips I user to give a great Salesforce User Group Presentation.
Slides versus Demo
My favorite line to use in training is that “Salesforce doesn’t translate to powerpoint very well”. Sometimes its easier for the audience to grasp the concept with a demo instead of a slide with a whole bunch of annotations. Sometimes the reverse holds true. I would say more often than not a combination of both is needed. So let’s look at some best practices for each.
If you are going to spend time making a presentation your slides shouldn’t be your entire speech. So don’t just read your slides! If all of the information is contained in your slides, what does the audience get from you? Use your slides to reinforce and idea, concept, or point. Here is a link to an inc. article, this will help you create better presentations. While we are on the subject of slides, keep them simple. As an audience member I want to focus on your content- not how your words flame up on screen, or fly out. The same goes for your backgrounds, if you have never been in the room just plan on a plain white slide with black text. That is the simplest way to know your audience can read and understand the slide. It also makes for nice print outs if you go that route. Finally, don’t include links in your presentation unless it’s absolutely critical that you jump out of the presentation and show a website.
Doing a demo or your app, product, or whatever can really bring your point across. It can also lead to the longest, most uncomfortable feeling in the world if the app hangs. Or if you kick off the demo and someone kicks the plug out of the internet.
So here are my tips for doing a demo. First, ALWAYS DEMO IN A SANDBOX OR DEVELOPER ORG!! Never in production. You don’t want to kick off a workflow, show customer data, or otherwise jeopardize your company’s data by exposing it. When you prepare your demo fill in as much text as possible in your app so that all you have to do is the minimum to make the app work. I think of it like a cooking show, they show the ingredients, add them to the pot, and magically another pot is there and we have moved ahead. Watching you enter text into your app can slow down the cadence of the presentation. Also, be very specific about what you are demoing. I know your app has hundreds of features, but give the 5 that will really ‘WOW’ the audience.
Lastly, have a backup. If the wifi dies have a mifi or something ready. Or have screenshots to walk people through. But always, always, always plan on the internet taking a vacation on you. If you do that it won’t be a major disruption if it happens- and if it doesn’t then there is no harm in being overly prepared.
Know your audience
This sounds simple, but I see people that forget it all the time. Think about who you are talking to and who you are not talking to. I know for some of my presentations there are developers in the audience who get a whole lot of work done. And I’m cool with that. So know who you speaking to- Admins, Developers, Managers, Sales Users, etc. and tailor your message to them. Rarely can one speech reach all audiences.
Plan your time. Well.
If you take one thing away from this post it’s this- plan your time. Well. There is a lot of moving parts to a User Group Meeting and usually not a lot of time. I’ve seen people fail to plan and show up with two hours of content for a 15-minute presentation. If you are asked to speak find out what the time limit is and then dial back from that to accommodate for a speaker/ equipment change and questions. If they give you 30 minutes to speak plan on speaking for 20 that way you will have time for questions and to set up. Really always plan for having less time than what you are given. Rarely do I see a presentation end and not see a few hands go up. Plus, being well timed and ending early or at time shows respect for other speakers.
Know your equipment
When I present I always use my Mac. Always. I have every possible cable for it and know the settings to make my presentations look good. I do that so that I can focus on the presentation, getting set up (to the previous point), and giving a good presentation. I’m not stressed out because my fonts don’t show up, or something isn’t working. Those are recipes for giving bad presentations. If possible always try to present using your equipment.
Now, if you have to present on someone else’s equipment that’s ok. But be sure to show up early and test. And by early I mean as soon as the User Group leader will let you, not five minutes before the meeting starts- because they have enough going on. Also, if you know you will be presenting on different equipment use generally available fonts- Helvetica, Arial, Tahoma. Not some custom font you have installed on your computer.
Practice, practice, practice!
There are only a few people in the world that can walk up and give a great presentation. If it’s a topic you have spoken on before you can always polish it more, if it’s a new subject then practice is required. Practice will help you find the kinks or hang-ups in your presentation. It will also give you a good sense of time and what you may need to trim (or add).
Here is what I do to practice:
1. Have a stopwatch so you know how long your presentation is.
2. Present in front of a mirror, your dog, your neighbor- anyone that will listen. Seeing how you present and talking in front of someone will help calm your nerves on presentation day.
3. Talk through the entire presentation, don’t just mumble the parts and say “Yeah, I know that part” because chances are that part won’t be as polished as it should be. And as you do that also use the slides or app you will demo- basically replicate the presentation as much as possible.
So that’s it. Those are my tips for a great Salesforce user Group Presentation. In the end, give the presentation you would want to hear. But I’m curious, what did I miss?