Five ways to make your presentation better

Five ways to make your presentation better:

  1. Make it shorter. No extra points for filling your time.
  2. Be really clear about what it’s for. If the presentation works, what will change? Who will be changed? Will people take a different course of action because of your work? If not, then why do you do a presentation?
  3. Don’t use slides as a teleprompter. If you have details, write them up in a short memo and give it to us after the presentation.
  4. Don’t sing, don’t dance, don’t tell jokes. If those three skills are foreign to you, this is not a good time to try them out.
  5. Be here now. The reason you’re giving a presentation and not sending us a memo is that your personal presence, your energy and your humanity add value. Don’t hide them. Don’t use a prescribed format if that format doesn’t match the best version of you.

And a bonus: the best presentation is one you actually give. Don’t hide. Don’t postpone it. We need to hear from you.

A presentation is expensive. It’s many of us, in real time, in sync, all watching you do your thing. If you’re going to do it live, make it worth it. For us and for you.

(Via Seth’s Blog)

I’m pasting a copy of this in my work notebook. I’m strong at #3 & #5, need some improvement on #1 & #2, and #4 … well, sometimes I struggle with that.

I suggest the following amendment:

6. Avoid jargon, acronyms, and colloquialisms. Unless speaking to a homogenous audience, try not to use too much specialized language which could leave portions of your audience lost.

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Scale All #Emacs Windows for Presentations

Scale All Emacs Windows for Presentations:

If you use Emacs in or for your presentations, here’s a nice tip from Robin Green on how to scale all the windows up for better presentation:


You’ll have to load Drew Adams’ zoom-frm.el but if you give a lot of presentations where Emacs and its buffers play a significant role, you may find it worthwhile and helpful.

(Via Emacs – Irreal)

I don’t use Emacs for presentations but I wish I did. Maybe it will be my next project? Who knows?

This is a great tip anyway. For example, when I lose or break my glasses, insane zoom will be the only way I can read my Emacs.

Presentation: Top 10 Mistakes in SOC, IH & IR from @CircleCityCon

Here is the PDF with speaker’s notes of my CircleCityCon 2016 talk: Top_10_SOC_CCC2016

The video of my talk is here.

I thoroughly enjoyed speaking at the conference. Thank you to the audience, who were fantastic. I would be remiss if I did not also thank the CCC organizers for bestowing the honor of speaking upon me.


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IBM Watson Summit 2016 Japan Talk: Building a Next Generation SOC on Hybrid Cloud

The event organizers honored me with an invitation to speak at the IBM Watson Summit 2016 here in Tokyo. My talk, Building a Next Generation SOC on Hybrid Cloud, was (I think) well received.

The talk covered many items: why we build these things called SOC; what is the next generation of SOC; how can we move toward it; how can we leverage a hybrid model and cloud tools to enable the transition. I can’t share the deck. The presentation was not recorded, though cameras captured me in action quite often. Glad I was looking sharp!

It’s been a while since I presented with simultaneous translation into another language. The translators were great. By all accounts they captured not only my words but a bit of my passion and energy.

I’m not sure how my audience received the message. Crowds didn’t up and leave. No one fell asleep, something of a victory for a 4PM talk on day 3. About 130 of an expected 200 showed up. All in all, I think it went well.

I wish there was a question and answer session or a time for Sato-san and me to answer questions one-on-one.

I want to thank my colleague, Sato Takuya, for introducing me and closing out the session. I wish I knew the names of the translators to talk them by name as well.

p.s. – If you are an event organizer and you chose lanyard-attached name tags, please print the information on both sides of the insert card!

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Me @ CircleCityCon, Talkin’ SOC

Dear Friends,

I’m honored to present at CircleCityCon 2016 on Saturday at 16:00 on “Top 10 Mistakes in Security Operations Centers, Incident Handling & Response” and how to avoid them (

I’m excited by the opportunity and can’t wait to see you there (tickets: Stop by and say ‘hi’!

I might just have a PVC Security cohort or two around, so don’t be surprised if a PVC Security podcast episode happens.

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Engagement Zen: Transforming IT & the Business through Security for Fun + Profit

Recently I presented a talk at BSides Detroit 2014. It was a fantastic experience. The organizers were excellent. The audience was great. I loved standing up on stage in front of people for the first time in almost two years. The feedback was constructive and wonderful. I look forward to continuing the conversation and presenting this talk at other events.

What’s the talk about? It’s about how Security is a different entity inside of any business, assuming Security’s role persists in-house and not out-sourced. Security Professionals cross all the silos that a traditional IT organization creates and isolates themselves with (DBAs, AppDev, Linux SysAdmins, Windows SysAdmins, Network, etc.). Security Professionals see and interact with parts of the business that IT typically doesn’t (HR, Legal, Finance, R&D, etc.). This provides Security with a unique perspective.

Security must leverage their unique position to make a positive and memorable impact with IT and the business. Spreading Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt (FUD) isn’t the way. Conveying the message that the sky is falling isn’t the way. Constantly saying “no” isn’t the way.

What is the way? Talk with IT & the Business. But don’t talk with them about what you want, which is Security. Talk with them about what they want. Ask them about their fears and concerns and problems and what they wish they could do but don’t know how to do.

I wanted to come up with an approach that wouldn’t need approval or bureaucracy or some management intervention. I wanted something anyone could do at zero cost at any time with little to no gear needed.

And thus: Interview them. See the slide deck for how to go about this.

If you can solve a problem of IT &| the Business, one that leverages Security’s unique view inside of the organization, then they will want to engage with Security in the future. If done properly they will seek you out, accept when you engage, and consider you a trusted advisor.

It also has the benefit of action. That is much preferred versus waiting for someone to realize that security is important.

Several people have asked where to get my slide deck for the talk. You can get it from Dropbox here.

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Presentation Preparation with EverNote

Evernote (EN) fills a gap in my presentation preparation. This is more nuts and bolts and less philosophy, though there’s a bit of that here.

I’m often asked to present and explain complex technologies and concepts to a broad audience. Sometimes the request comes with little time for preparation.

Occasionally the lack of notice is okay. I keep general slide decks (e.g. Microsoft Office PowerPoint Presentations) ready to go. I know the material well and engage the audience, to the point that a deck on display behind me is informational. The problem manifests when I forget portions of my presentations, just like when you know a song but forget the middle verse. The same happens when the discussion heads down an interesting tangent.

In such cases I use EN to record the presentation for continual improvement, but that doesn’t help ensure I get the content across I intend to.

When I hit an interesting tangent I can forget why I’m there in the first place.

The problem expands when I need to convey something new and soon. I stumbled on a solution accidentally using EN. EN has a record audio button in the note dialog. I use it to capture tasks and notes when I can’t get to a PC. I use it to record my talks as mentioned before to help me improve my presentations.

While I’m used to recording my talks, recording the pre-presentations is the “ah-ha” moment. In the EN note I put the key concepts and points in the talk. Then I use the record option to capture my initial brain dump ramblings on the topic. I play it back, capturing the concepts and details I like and discard the less salient points.

Eventually I draft the deck in the same note. I’m a huge fan of Garr Reynolds Presentation Zen and the presentations of Steve Jobs, Guy Kawasaki, Ze Frank, Alton Brown’s Good Eats (one of the best show-&-explain examples out there), and those who let the display set the story but the presenter to tell the story. This is the antithesis of the “death by PowerPoint” or “bullet pointed to death” exaggerations of boring to bad presentations.

For each slide I use EN to grab the pictures that might help convey the message I want to communicate. I write the slide text and any supporting materials.

As I iterate the mirror & timer test of my deck, I record them. I can go back and listen to older versions to make sure I move forward without losing content. I adjust the note to reflect the changes.

The last step I do is actually put the slide deck (ppt) together.

The folks who run such sessions want the presentation deck way ahead of the actual presentation. When they do, I give a dummy deck then send the final version as adjacent to the session as practical. Worst case I’ll ask to use the version on my USB stick. Those who want to vet content don’t care for that technique, but a live audience can surface other concerns.