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JC Smiley
JC Smiley

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How can a developer improve their presentation skills?

Practice, Practice, Practice. Start at your local user group, it's the friendliest audience you'll likely have. Prepare, a lot. Make sure you fill your time slot. If it's a 30-minute slot, your content should fill 95% of that time. If you can't practice, run through your talk and hit your time slot. Add content until you go over and then revise your content until it fits.

Demonstrate what the TOPIC is good for, what it's not good for, and how you've applied TOPIC. Tell a story. Don't be afraid to ask for audience participation but don't require it.

Never live code. I know X does it and it's amazing! If you're not X then don't live code. It's tons of pressure and it's a bad time to realize you can't type while standing/screen sharing in front of others. Instead of live code, show a progression via image slides, or record a movie/GIF/whatever of you coding. Practice practice practice.

It is important to listen to the feedback you get from other people. Listening is fundamental regardless of what field you are in. Having awareness of your own personal strengths and weaknesses is a huge advantage for your self-confidence.

Don't skip out on the opportunity to practice communicating. If there is a demo to perform then make sure that you present your portion at minimum if not doing extra. If you have a question during a meeting, then don't wait until afterward to have a side conversation with your colleague. Ask the question in the meeting in front of everyone. The more you talk in front of a group the easier it will become. Bear in mind that this doesn't mean that you will ever be immune to stage fright or some butterflies for a presentation.

Practice in front of people (Husband, wife, kids dog in the corner, whomever) and get feedback. No people, video yourself with your phone then go back and watch it.

Practice, practice, and practice some more! It is equally important to present process / results as it is to do the work, especially if you are trying to sell people on a new idea. You can do some incredible work, but if you can't present it in a way that communicates that work to others, it might fall by the wayside.

Think about how you will present everything you work on. This is a through-line for the entire effort. Don't let presentation be something you think about after 99% of the work is done. When you write the initial “story”, when you plan the work, when you write the comments (before you write the code!), all these thoughts should be a perspective on the information about the work.

Code Connector Contributors: Azhya Knox , Corey McCarty, Lawrence Lockhart, Joe Fergerson, Dennis Kennetz , Steve Hallman

Code Connector is a non-profit that's organized tech meetups to help people start their journey into tech. You can join our daily conversations by clicking this link: Code Connector slack channel.

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