Jim Peterson is a 39 year old Technology Coordinator for the Goodnight Memorial Library, a very small library with a staff of 10, including the custodian! You can follow him on twitter, read his blog or check him out on Facebook.
Also please note that this submission will be one of two parts to be posted over two days.
First off, let me start by saying that I am no public speaking trainer. I’m not a motivational speaker, at least not in my mind. I am a geek; defined as:
geek [giːk] n Slang
1. a boring and unattractive social misfit
2. a person who is preoccupied with or very knowledgeable about computing
3. a degenerate
tr.v. geeked, geek·ing, geeks
To excite emotionally: I’m geeked about that new video game.
[probably variant of Scottish geck fool, from Middle Low German geck]
So I guess that makes me a foolish, boring, unattractive, social misfit degenerate who is very knowledgeable about computing. But my inner geek cries out in pain, “But there is so much more to me than you see!”
I am also a librarian by way of luck. I didn’t go to library school. I was let go from my previous job as a tech support person at a major computer manufacturer. I was just totally lucky that my local library had need for a Technical Services Librarian. I hadn’t been inside a public library in 10 years and knew nothing about how they worked. That was a little over 2 years ago. So why am I doing presentations?
The answer is fairly simple. I care. The state of Kentucky is full of small towns, in which there are small, tight-budgeted public libraries – libraries that can’t afford their own tech guy. In this market so many citizens are underserved by big corporations, such as phone and cable companies, big-box stores, etc. These folks turn to their libraries for help with online job searches, filing for unemployment, and keeping up with friends and family through services like Facebook. I have the knowledge to make things work on the computer and networking side and pass on my knowledge to those who listen. If this sounds like you, then please read on!
As my example, I’ll be using one of my presentations available on Slideshare. It is a presentation I did for the KY Department of Libraries & Archives‘ (KDLA) Bookmobile & Outreach Services conference last September.
To do a presentation, you will first need to receive a CFP from a conference, symposium or training session. A CFP is a Call For Proposal, Papers, Participation, whatever P-word works, in which you submit a basic outline of what you intend to discuss. For example:
Now click on the screenshot above and you will be taken to the full CFP page. This page includes the proposal guidelines, some suggested topics, what types of presentations are offered and submission requirements. At larger conferences that draw an international audience like LinuxCon, you may also be given guidance as to preferred languages.
Choosing a topic
Once you have chosen a conference, you should have an idea on what topic you will speak about. For example, there are challenges associated with creating a reliable mobile Internet connection in a rural library. So I knew I had something to offer the KDLA Bookmobile and Outreach folks since I had just recently installed mobile broadband on our bookmobile.
I can’t overemphasize enough the importance of experience when it comes to choosing a topic. If you have experience in your topic, you will have a calmness and confidence that translates directly to your presentation. Your body language will display comfort with the topic and the audience will be able to recognize you as an expert. And by volunteering your time as a speaker/presenter at a conference workshop, you will be considered an ‘expert’ on your topic unless you prove yourself wrong!
As an example, I have been playing with computers in one way or another since around 1981, when PCs were starting to become affordable enough for the home market. I have built and broken, fixed and sold, and have an IT degree. But that degree means little if there is no experience to back it up. After all it is just a piece of paper that says you know how to pass tests, and that’s how many event coordinators look at them.
Creating the presentation
Personally, I create on the fly and tweak it into shape as I go. I’m not one of those who can sit down, write an outline and then fill in the blanks. So while my style of doing things may differ from yours, remember that there is no one correct way of doing things! For example, with the Bookmobile presentation, here is a link to my Slideshare page where you can see this PowerPoint deck in its entirety. The first page gives a rough outline of the major points to be made:
When you’re creating a PowerPoint, think about who you will be talking to and the message you want to get across. I chose this slide background because I was going to be telling these folks how to bring the World Wide Web to their patrons, so a global theme seemed subtle and appropriate.