Will "the Mighty" Strohl

Useful Tips for DotNetNuke Presenters

Telling the Connecticut DNN User Group About jQuery

When you think about presenting any topic to an audience, there are quite a few things that are common to presenters, no matter what the topic or type of presentation it is.  You want to be well-prepared.  This sounds super simple, and even trivial enough to not have to mention, but it’s not.  Not even for the most seasoned presenters out there.

Preparation requires that you know a few things that are sometimes outside of your control:

  • What kind of audience will I be presenting to?
  • What kind of equipment will I be using?
  • What is the layout of the room?
  • How long do I have for my presentation?
  • Is there an expected “dress code” that I need to worry about?

Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott BerkunThose are just a few of the questions that you need to ask yourself, and the organizer of the event when you agree to do a presentation for someone.  There are those questions, and many more.  I had no idea how much was within my control, until after reading Confessions of a Public Speaker, by Scott Berkun.  He definitely made me feel better though by telling us all about some of his mistakes in the book too.

People like Scott Hanselman have already done an outstanding job of giving us a few tools and tips to prepare and give a better technical presentation.  So, I will not re-publish his tips, but rather focus on some tips specific to those who want to present on DNN topics.

Scott Hanselman Presentation Blog Posts:

Forget the tips for ZoomIt in the previous posts unless you are on pre-Windows 7.  Windows 7 has a great zoom tool that’s built in, unless you’re also using GoToMeeting.  GTM and Win7 do a very weird double-zoom thing that will be highly distracting.  In fact, I think LiveMeeting does this with ZoomIt as well.  (Implicit tip here…  TEST your demo in the intended environment beforehand.)

The point of this post is not to re-hash the tips from Scott.  However, there are some additional tips that you can follow as a DotNetNuke presenter that will help you a lot.  Just to be clear, you should read the previous blogs I linked to and follow Scott’s advice in addition to the advice that I give you here.

Run the Site Before

Most DNN presenters will undoubtedly show a DNN website at some point during their presentation.  Make sure that your website is compiled, and ready to go.  Few things are more distracting to a presenter then trying to fill dead air while waiting for your site to compile.  DNN does quite a bit before the first page load, so make sure that you don’t bore your audience by showing them how long this takes on your laptop.

Go to the Login

If your demo will require to you hit the login page at any point, make sure you go there before your demo.  Like the site spinning up, there is additional time to wait when you attempt to load the login page.  DNN does a great job of caching, so visit this page once before your presentation, and you’ll be fine.  Alternatively, you can also uninstall or disable the authentication providers you’re not going to be using.

Have Multiple Demo Sites

I cannot tell you this enough.  Have multiple demo sites ready to go.  This is great for a few reasons.  First of all, you can and probably will at some point ruin one of your demo sites.  I have done this right in front of a code camp crowd, and it was also during a LiveMeeting broadcast to the world.  Microsoft helped us advertise the LiveMeeting broadcast, so there wasn’t any shortage of people to see what I had done.  It was quite embarrassing, but I easily recovered in less than a minute by simply switching to another demo site I had up and ready to go.  Most people barely noticed.

You may also want to do this if you’re doing a presentation that requires your site to recompile over and over again.  If you can split the page load times between the two sites, then you can perform some smoke and mirrors tricks in front of your audience to make the time seem more efficient.  When one site is compiling, switch to the other one and continue to show off your knowledge.  By the time you’ve shown something, the other site will be ready.

Have Site Backups Ready

Even if you have multiple demo sites ready to go, you should also be ready to restore a demo site if the unknown situation arises where you need to.  The most effective strategy would be to perform your demo beforehand, nothing any key points that you might need to restore to.  Perform backups of your demo sites at these key points that you’ve indicated.  This way, you can easily get back into the groove in just a few short moments and wow the audience with your presentation skills.

Pre-Download Your Files

DotNetNuke presentations will often revolve around the framework itself, or one or more of the extensions that can be installed into DNN.  Never rely on an internet connection to download the files needed for your presentation.  Download them before, no matter how many there are.  I guarantee you that your audience already knows how to download files from a website.  You can show them the site, just don’t initiate the downloads.

Organize Code Snippets

Whether you are presenting on a programming topic, or administrating DNN, you will more than likely have one or more snippets of code that you will need to paste into screens instead of writing.  Programs like Visual Studio make saving and inserting code snippets quite easy.  Other programs might have built-in support for snippets as well, such as Adobe’s Dreamweaver.  And you can even use a standalone code snippet manager program too.

However, you have other options with DotNetNuke.  For example, there is a Template Manager built into the Telerik RadEditor that is enabled by default in DNN now.  It allows you save and insert HTML snippets into the editor throughout a DNN site.  This makes snippets easier than ever to use in administrative style presentations that involve content.

If you’re old school like me though, you might enjoy having a text document full of snippets open.  There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you follow a couple of simple rules.

  1. Organize your snippets into the order that you will be inserting them in your demo, and test them thoroughly.
  2. Copy the first snippet onto your clipboard before your presentation starts.

Have Screen Shots or a Virtual Machine Ready

One more than one occasion, I have seen presenters lose their entire demo due to quite a few things.  Those situations have ranged from projector issues, to IIS being fragged, to the database hosing up.  For worst-case-scenarios, you should have some screen shots ready to walk people through your demo.  If you are running your demo off of a virtual machine, then you might be in luck.  I have seen a presenter literally be able disconnect an external drive from a laptop, and reconnect it to someone else’s laptop, and then begin their DNN presentation because it was running on a virtual machine and someone else in the audience had it installed on their laptop too.

I hope these tips were helpful to you.  If you have any of your own, feel free to list them in the comments.

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