Lessons From a First-Time Dreamforce Presenter

bitmoji-20150918155130It’s done and over! I got over a major professional hurdle and presented a fantastic session at #DF15: #AwesomeAdmin Hacks: Tips and Tricks for Nonprofit Administrators. So far the feedback has been positive and I felt great about how both sessions went (we did the same one twice). I wanted to write out a few lessons learned before this whole week is just WHOOSH gone.

Anyone can do it. I mean a few things by this. I was kind of terrified to speak in front of this many people, as I’ve attended Dreamforce for years and watched the slick, highly controlled presentations and presenters wearing madonna mikes and never once did it occur to me that I was actually capable of doing just that. I also mean, we Salesforce admins and power users, particularly in nonprofit settings, have A LOT to offer at Dreamforce. We are doing creative, innovative things with every tool at our disposal, and have so many stories, tips, and advice to share with our colleagues and extended community at Dreamforce.

Don’t get too technical. These sessions are so short. Even if you are presenting a technical solution, don’t get too deep into detail on the steps. You’re not doing a training. If an attendee sees something they want to try in their org, they can find resources and screenshots in the session’s Chatter feed, do some googling, or contact you after Dreamforce. Dreamforce sessions essentially consist of storytelling. Tell some stories, and tell them well! The rest happens afterwards.

Practice makes perfect. It’s true. I reviewed, revised, and ran through that presentation so many times I basically had it memorized. Which meant that when I got up there, adrenaline pumping through me, all the practicing is what got me through. The part of my brain that talks to one or two people shut off and some new, unfamiliar part kicked in that retrieved everything I had practiced and sent it to my mouth and projected it out to a crowd. Somehow. I’m sure some scientist could explain it but it was both amazing and useful.

Use all of your resources. I ran through all of my content with my co-presenters and my work team and then revised my presentation based on their feedback. I also solicited feedback from people who didn’t know the first thing about Salesforce but knew public speaking and pedagogy. Even people who don’t understand fully (or even partially) your content will be able to give you feedback – and if nothing else, they provide another audience for another practice round. Make yourself vulnerable, identify your needs and blind spots, and reach out for help.

High FiveDo what you know and what makes you happy. This means both when choosing the content of your presentation and the visuals in your PowerPoint. I’ve been pretty obsessed with the Bitmoji app, so my presentation was full of cartoons bearing my likeness. It’s fun and entertaining and most important, it gets ME enthused, and then I’m an even more enthusiastic presenter!

Lastly: have fun. I didn’t think this one would be possible. After all of your hard work choosing great content, creating eye-catching and entertaining visuals, and practicing your heart out, you get to cash in. Attendees watching youbitmoji-20150918155948r presentation will get more out of it if you look like you are genuinely having a good time.

I hope I have the opportunity to present at #DF16! But first, sleep.

12 thoughts on “Lessons From a First-Time Dreamforce Presenter

  1. I didn’t catch all of your session, but I came away with some useful ideas. Using Buckets + ParentGroupVal solves a problem I had been struggling with recently! I thought you had more content than a lot of others and did better than they did at presenting.


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