By Kyle Kulyk
Presentations are a part of life in the game industry. Occasionally even game developers are called upon to leave the confines of their offices/work dungeons and step into the general public line of fire. There’s no reason these occurrences need should be stressful, anxiety ridden affairs. While this may be common knowledge to some familiar with public speaking, I recently executed two back to back presentations in promotion of our first, mobile phone game, Itzy, which should be launching next week (aaaahhh plug plug plug). I thought I’d give a couple of tips on presentations while they’re fresh in my mind.
Show up early – Nerves might keep you outside until the last-minute. You might want to rehearse your speech in the washroom. You might want to belly up to the local pub for that final shot of liquid courage. Don’t! Get there early and make sure you’re setup. Nothing makes a crowd as restless as watching you sit there, fumbling with a thumb drive, waiting for the projector to heat up, organizing your notes. Be ready to go. In one of my recent presentations, no one knew the login for the PC I was slated to present on. We had to wait for a runner to go find someone in the know and report back to us, and that took some time.
Practice – Run through your presentation in its entirety before. Do it a few times and make sure you’re comfortable with your visual media and the source material. At my first presentation, I forgot my notes sitting beside the computer at home. Thankfully, I knew what I wanted to say without my notes having run over the presentation earlier that afternoon and was able to just wing it with my slides acting as my guide. Which leads to my next point…
Remember to bring your notes – Seems like a no brainer, but hey! I forgot. In fact, why not make a checklist of everything you need? And check your files. Make sure you actually remembered to bring your presentation materials, and don’t forget to bring the appropriate materials. Has anyone seen a presenter prepare to do a PowerPoint presentation, only to find the machine he’s presenting on doesn’t have PowerPoint? They were picking bits of that guy out of the ceiling ventilation system. Save as a PowerPoint Show, or why not bring both file versions, just in case?
Do you like the walls of text? Neither do we – Keep your visual presentations simple. No one likes to sit through a presentation with a never-ending wall of text. Break it up, simplify, add graphics. And for the love of god, try to limit your presentation to about 20 minutes or so…
Don’t Memorize – No one likes to sit back and listen to a scripted speech. Know your material, stick to your key points and have a conversation with the audience. If you know what you’re talking about, keep to the key points and just wing. It’s much less stressful than remembering your lines and helps you connect with your audience.
Have fun – With any luck, you like your job. Bring that enthusiasm to your presentations. Neither of my presentations went perfect this past week, but the experience of talking about a subject I’m passionate about sure as hell beats talking about something I have no interest in. I’ve given many presentations over the years during my decade in the brokerage industry and talking now about my company and the game we’re working on instead of talking about mutual funds or what online brokerage platforms are best for you, that has to be the most fun I’ve ever had doing a presentation. I was nervous at first, I always am and you will be too but don’t let that get to you. Enjoy what you do, and it’ll be enjoyable for your audience.
A lot of these points might seem pretty straight forward, but when you throw in the extra stress of presenting suddenly the straight forward can be elusive no matter if you’re presenting to the public or just a room of your co-workers.
Good luck on your next presentation.