Skip to Content

It’s Your Time to Shine. Present at the Higher Ed Summit 2015!

By November 20, 2014

By: Nicholas Zinser

HESummitI got my first job after college working as an Admissions Counselor for my alma mater. While the experience was great, there were two incredibly useful skills I developed that continue to pay benefits to this day:

1. The ability to walk backwards and talk simultaneously.

2. Overcoming stage fright and learning to present in public.

We can save stories related to the first item for a later time. Today, I’d like to talk about presenting.

I have not always been comfortable presenting in front of an audience. It took many repeated attempts at explaining the benefits of a liberal arts education to disinterested 16-year-olds who wanted nothing more than to be excused from English class for me to hone my presentation skills.

Today, the call for proposals for the 2015 Higher Education Summit opens, and I encourage everyone to submit a session on a topic that interests them. The 2015 HE Summit is February 12-13 in Miami. As our community grows, it’s really great to share new stories of success and lessons learned from different types of schools and use cases. Take a few moments to develop your institution’s story around Salesforce and envision how you’d bring that to a wider audience. If you haven’t presented at a Salesforce event yet, here are some tips on how to best prepare:

Write Your Story

Don’t worry about what you think the audience wants to hear – think about your institution’s successes and struggles and shape those into a proposal. This is your story, and it doesn’t need to start as a fully-formed slide deck. Instead, think of the times when your users were really engaged with the product – what business problem did you solve or which software package enabled several offices to achieve even more on the platform? These are the items you can use as building blocks for your presentation. Your proposal should reflect that journey.

The Editing Room

I struggle with editing. When I’m trying to tell a great story for an audience, I want to include as much detail as possible. Alas, you’ll typically have an hour or less to do your presentation, so think about how to resist the urge to share everything. I try and provide half as many detail slides as I have minutes to present. 40 minute session at Dreamforce? 20 slides. It’s a struggle, but you want to make sure to highlight your key points and save the rest for anecdotes during Q&A.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Remember the earlier mention of disinterested 16-year-olds? I was doing that 5-6 times a day, 5 days a week for 3 months each year. While I hope you have a more forgiving (or at least attentive) audience, the more you can practice, the more comfortable you’ll be during your session. Try and complete at least two “dry runs” with your moderator and/or co-presenters with you. Even in a virtual meeting, you’ll become more comfortable with the pacing of your slides and the transitions between key items will become seamless. Pretending your monitor or mirror is actually an audience of 100 colleagues waiting for your session is a great way to practice prior to the big day.

A successful presentation connects with the audience and shares an interesting story that not only contains practical information, but also inspires others. I hope this post helps you think about how your story can do that and will encourage you to submit a proposal for the Higher Education Summit. And do it soon as the call for sessions closes on December 12th.

If you’re not quite ready to propose something for February, and would like to talk about presentation strategies for future events (Dreamforce will be here before we know it!), find me on the Power of Us Hub, the Success Community, or on Twitter @nzinser.

Submit Your Proposal

Nick ZinserAbout the Author

Nicholas Zinser has worked in higher education for over 17 years, focusing on technology and enrollment management. Nick was recognized as a Salesforce MVP in the Spring of 2014, and is a member of the Salesforce Higher Education Advisory Council.