I probably should have put this up earlier in the week: Posting here (and probably on most of the Adobe blogs) will be slow this week since most of the technology groups are in San Jose for a global technology summit.
One Key Takeaway(TM): Adobe, like most other tech companies, should be investing much, MUCH more in training staff on public speaking and presentation design. If I were running things (luckily, I have no such authority, or Adobe would have on-site bocci ball courts, a line of luxury formalware, and a Ronco Showtime Rotisserie Grill in every kitchen) I would offer free classes in film making , acting ,information design and graphic design – all of the essential skills needed to make really good presentations (after all, presenting is just storytelling).
PowerPoint takes the brunt of the blame, and deservedly so, as it is a really fantastic tool for quickly and easily making terrible presentations. However, public speaking and presentation is a skill that can be taught and learned, and it’s tragic that companies invest so much in other areas, yet expect developers to be able to flip a switch, get on stage in front of 400 people, and turn in a great presentation. Others have written on this more extensively (and articulately), but there’s some disconnect at these conferences: The developers are passionate about their product. The people in attendance are interested in the product and desparately want the presenter to do well. Yet, somewhere in the ether between them, these twinned purposes become seperated, the presenters fall into “presenting” mode, the audience falls into “well, better catch up on email” mode, and all of that passion and indivuality gets compressed into a few bullet points (or, in the worst cases, lots of bullet points).
On that note: go read Presentation Zen