I said I would be writing more about why I feel everyone should present at least once. I touched on these reasons in my post on what I learned by presenting, but I think they are good reasons for all of us to do a presentation at least once. I started out with the 5 things I learned, but had one more I wanted to make sure that I included, so you get a bonus.
There are knowledge gaps we all have and new technologies we want to learn. Often, actually buckling down to explore a new tool/framework/ect gets put off. If I know that I have to give a presentation on one of these it will force me to buckle down and spend the time that I need to understand a topic.
I did this for my Regular Expression talk. They were something I knew I wanted to learn and to understand. I first committed to the talk, then spent the time to learn how Regular Expressions worked and formulated the presentation around how and what I was learning.
When we learn, we take in a whole bunch of information. Generally speaking, our brains do not organize this information well and while we may have a overarching grasp of the topic, trying to explain it shows our lack of organization and understanding of the concept.
Once we do try teaching a topic, our brains are forced to organize this information in a better way. Studies show when we teach, there is a 90% retention on what we have taught. A presentation is a form of teaching the topic and as we prepare for a presentation, everytime we read through it for organization and fluidity, it is like explaining it to several different people. This forces us to be organized and to understand how the different parts of the topic relate to each other.
The little victories are important when learning anything. Coding particularly is an extremely difficult endeavor and you will constantly feel everyone knows more than you. Small victories, like hearing yourself explain a topic and answering questions can boost your confidence and show a tangible way the hard work is “paying off.”
The topic of your presentation can lead to great conversations and can start as an ice breaker. People will remember your face from your talk and it can usually be the starting off point of a conversation and you may even learn more about your topic.
Additionally, people know they should be talking to each other, but often times, they will not. Many conferences give out name tags which say “speaker” or something similar. Knowing you are a speaker at an event gives people another way to start a conversation. You can expect many who may have not been able to see your talk to come up and ask, “So what did you talk on?”
This maybe came as somewhat of a surprise to me, but I enjoyed forcing myself to dig deep enough to give a presentation, formulating the way I would talk about a topic, and talking to others about something which I was excited.
You may find you enjoy it for some of the same, or maybe some different reasons. However, it is worth trying as it will push you to grow in new ways.
Okay, so maybe this isn’t a reason to give a presentation, but it is definitely not an excuse to not give a presentation. No one expects a presenter to have all the answers and answering a question by saying that you will have to look into it, is never an issue. My personal favorite answer is, “I will have to look that up, follow me on twitter and I will respond about it there.”
Remember though, you are the expert. You are the one giving the presentation and you have done the research. Give yourself credit for what you know.