Your Next Knowledge Day Session

If you work with a professional services or other expertise-based team, you may eventually be asked to present something to a mixed audience of beginners to experts. We often have these as part of our Knowledge Day Sessions (read about my presentations from last year's sessions).

This post offers some tips, tricks, and suggestions on choosing a Tridion-related topic, though you could apply this to other technical presentations.

1. You Know, and Assume Others Know, Too Much

First of all, with the curse of expertise you don't realize how much you know compared to your audience. It's okay to go over basics to connect with both the experts and beginners--then work your way into the details where it gets challenging by the end. If you're read Art of Explanation, you'll know to start with the forest, then the trees, and use analogies (like I just did). See some quick insights from Art of Explanation's Lee Lefever.

2. Non-Technical Presentations are Okay

Your presentation doesn't have to be technical--you could review what services your team offers, describe plans, or review processes. You could share team history, give consulting tips, or do an ice breaker (like last year's CXM games).

"What Really Happened at Client X" is always a good pick because it'll be easy to remember, personal, and most can't know what happened without being there. Each implementation is slightly different, so there's always something to learn.

Also look for topics you either love talking about (where you keep telling someone, "dude, check this out") and/or something people keep asking you about, which are perfect for knowledge sharing sessions because apparently the knowledge isn't sticking.

3. Be Sticky

Speaking of sticky, I like trying to make presentations with "sticky" ideas (read Made to Stick for tips and inspiration). For example, making a group guess or draw how Tridion looks without showing them first can help both beginners and experts.

Predicting Tridion with a drawing follows Made to Stick's SUCCES acronym of an idea that's simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and based on a story (I've used it at clients). The newbies see the familiar parts of the interface and experts get a technique at explaining any topic.

4. Get Personal

Your team might need help or a reminder on how to use tools you take for granted. You might know or use certain IDEs or types of source control more than others. Give a "day-in-the-life-of-me" presentation.

Even experts may still need an explanation of how our own setup works. For example, many know SharePoint or even Tridion, but you can't know a given setup without an explanation or some time with a given setup. It doesn't matter how simple an interface is, as long as it's related to your work--for example, do you remember what it was like to book your first flight with the corporate travel system?

Get audience participation for the experts as well or even newbies that used similar tools in old jobs.

5. Know Your Purpose and Be Practical

Connecting with the team is as important as the knowledge sharing. In additional to teaching something to others, you might want to:
  • Help others know you're really interested in a certain topic, so that they can ask for help from you about it later or maybe send that type of work your way
  • Inspire, challenge, or otherwise shake up things the team might be stuck on
  • Relax, slow down, and take a break from client work
  • Reminisce while adding more memories (something hilarious or outrageous might be nice, like that one time my colleague shot my other colleague with a paint gun at point black range)
In the end, you only have maybe 45 minutes (don't forget a stretch break and transition time between speakers) to present, so true brain-to-brain knowledge transfer will be challenging. But introducing, convincing, and inspiring the audience might be more practical goals. For example, my first Knowledge Day presentation launched a half-dozen blogs or so. And blogging is definitely easier than Tridion.

As a final practical tip, I like to break topics into three parts and use transitions between them. 

Final Tip: Don't Trust the Wifi

Unless you're at a venue that's dedicated to technical presentations (e.g. a training room), internet connectivity might well, suck. Consider a hands on presentation with paper, role play, or computers that are offline. Ideally test first if using an air card or your phone as a hot spot.

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