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Rock the house! 10 Golden tips for a successful Joomla presentation


We’ve all seen them, at JoomlaDays or at Joomla User Group meetings: the people giving talks and presentations, making it look like it’s super easy. What is their secret, and can you learn to present with flair and confidence? Read more and find out!

Why do I write this article? I’ve attended a number of  presentation courses during my professional life. Then I started presenting at Joomla Day Germany, and saw many presentations. Some were gorgeous, some could have been better. I want to encourage everyone to share knowledge. Are you one of the Joomlers who would like to share knowledge but are afraid to perform in public? Then we have a few tips for you to make it fun. This article is not about how to create slides, it’s all about presenting techniques, attitude and confidence.

Disclaimer: I am like a trainer. I know what to do – that does not mean that I am perfect with it. We must not be perfect, only have fun.

There is no reason to be scared

Speaking at a Joomla event is speaking to friends – no one will grill you, it is not a political debate or job assessment center.
Read the following tips for a good attitude and body language. At least 30% of information comes from nonverbal communication, also if you are presenting online.
Whether you are speaking online or in a life event – some things are always essential for a successful presentation.

Stage fright is normal

Did you know that many famous actors are always super nervous before their performance? If you too are a bit nervous, that’s ok. It keeps you awake and attentive. Sure, people could notice that you are nervous. So what? You can even tell them you’re nervous, or say “I think you guys are super scary.” That breaks the ice, people laugh and the whole atmosphere will get more relaxed.[1] 

1 Prepare your stage

During a live event you have no influence on the room and not much influence on the light – but online you can prepare your stage. Make a Meet or Zoom  with yourself. What do you see in the background? The undone bed? The book shelf or the wardrobe? If you can, choose a friendly and quiet background that has good contrast with your hair and skin.

Try to get the light from the side or front, not from back or ceiling – and not from below (the light from the laptop display makes you look like a zombie). You can place a small lamp behind your monitor before presenting.

2 Dress individually   

At Joomla events there is no dress code at all. You can wear what you like, but when I look back at the many Joomla Events I have attended: I remember Chiara Aliotta and Kevin Gallagher – she was always pretty dressed, he always wore a kilt on stage. And of course I remember Brian Teeman in different costumes. From other speakers I sometimes don’t even remember the person. So why not wear something which is comfortable but has a little extra? A Joomla shirt shows already that you are part of the community, but why not be extraordinary?

3 Speak loud and slowly and articulate carefully

We Joomlers come from everywhere in the world and have different languages. Most of us are not trained speakers with trained voices and many of us are not native English speakers, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you speak slowly!

When time is running and I still have soooo much to tell, I use to speak in a haste, and at the end, nobody remembers what I’ve said (not even me). Or when I (German) have to speak English or French – I mumble as fast as possible, hoping that this hides all my errors. But it does not. Not at all! So take your time to explain things in a calm and clear manner.

4 Exercise speaking with Closed Captions

Make a Google Meet or Zoom with yourself and activate closed captions (CC).
Then watch what the system understands when you speak. This is really interesting and sometimes really funny. The system can recognise only words which are in the dictionary, it tries to find a similar word for all unrecognised words.
For Joomla I get “tumor”or “schulfrei” (German “no school today”) and when I say “Cassiopeia” the system understands “kiss your prayer” or “craft your power”. It makes “cheese socks” from GSoC (Google Summer of Code) - ignore that or laugh about it.

Despite these special expressions, closed captions make visible how many “um” and “yeah” you say and how clear your sentences are built. Extra tip for native English speakers: Try to keep your sentences short.

5 Have eye contact with the audience

In online presentations, this is not really possible. But you can flirt with your camera. Imagine she is an attentive friend. How do you speak to a friend who is sitting in front of you?

6 Keep your Attitude

Did you know? The secret of celebrities and royals who move perfectly is good body tension and conscious movement.

If you are on stage: be balanced and have your weight on both feet, the back is straight, shoulders down, chin parallel to the floor. From this position you then are free to move  and don’t need to waste energy for keeping balance. You can walk around, but always come back to this stable posture.

If you code in public and sit on a chair: You should have the monitor at the same height as your eyes .If you have a laptop, place it on a stack of books or a laptop rack until the camera is at the height of your eyes. Now you can keep your body upright - like one of these pretty girls at a typewriter in the fifties of the last century. And the camera will not present your double chin from below but your smiling face from the best position.

7 Watch your elbows and your hands

What are your hands doing while you speak on stage? Do they hang down like dead fish? Hide in your pockets? Use them on stage for gestures. Be careful to make gestures not above your head (except you want to show the height of a thing) and always remember that the elbow needs to support the gesture. So watch your elbows!
When you speak online - hands are dangerous. I like speaking with hands but noticed that the camera shows them huge and ugly so better keep them quiet.

8 When you share your screen

Coding in public during a speech is an extra challenge. When you’re coding, you shouldn’t be worrying about eye contact with the audience or about your chin – but you can help your audience by increasing the font on your screen as much as possible.

If you are presenting on stage, ask the organisational team in advance if they can dim the light in the room.

Code and speak slowly. Remember that you know your code, the audience does not. The audience sees something new, mostly in poor light and small fonts - keep that in mind and give them a chance to follow you.

9 If you lose the thread

Once you have hopelessly lost the thread (probably because you did not follow my first tip "speak slowly") - don’t panic. We are in a Joomla presentation, not in a TED Talk on TV.
You can laugh and say - “oops - I’ve lost the thread, what was our last point?” or  jump to the next topic. But avoid all “umm, yeah, uhh.. “  When presenting online, you can use a second monitor as a teleprompter to avoid such situations.

10 Prevent technical problems

My worst case scenario is a PC crash during a presentation. I had this situation twice – a real nightmare. Now I carefully check my equipment before a presentation. Batteries, mouse, cable, adapter, switcher .. and I have all my code and slides online, so someone can help me out with a PC in the worst case.  

Your experience?

These are a few tips which reflect my experience at Joomla Events. They cannot cover everything and are very individual. So what are yours? Can you share your favourite tip or a “No Go” with us?  I am looking forward to your comments!

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