Presenting to Engineers

The following article was put together by all of the delegates who attended the first Tech Field Day. It is reproduced here in hopes of helping future presentations to engineers.

Dear Presenter,

Your Tech Field Field attendees want to hear about your company, your products and your solutions. We look forward to the time spent with your company and are keen to find topics to write about. To help all of us we have put together the following suggestions to make the most of this fantastic opportunity.

Presenting to Engineers

When talking to the attendees of the GestaltIT Tech Field Day, you will come to the conclusion that there is a wide variety of opinions on the presentations that were pitched by the sponsors and vendors of the event. Some sessions were vibrant, dynamic and drew in the attention of everyone. Some other presentations were not bad, but seemed to lack the ability to fully draw in the attention of everyone in the room.

This fact sparked a discussion among the attendees which resulted in the post you are reading now. Presenting to a group of technically savvy people is a challenge. It requires a different form of presentation, and so we came up with a set of tips and recommendations that might help you create a presentation that has the potential to capture the attention of your audience.

Getting To Know The Delegates

  • Don’t assume all of the attendees are experts in your area. True to the spirit of Gestalt IT, we intentionally mix many IT disciplines at Tech Field Day to spark creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Bloggers have short attention spans and need focus to build a narrative and derive a story that can be delivered in a blog post of, say, 500 to a thousand words. Your attention to this idea will get better coverage. Unlike a journalist or an analyst, we need facts and technical data to be interested.
  • The attendees don’t get paid to do this. The attendees are engaged by their own interest, so deliver something interesting.
  • Deliver a specialized elevator pitch about your company so we can understand your past and your projected future.
    • In general terms, we don’t really care about your revenue or investors.
    • We do care about why you got started, and what drives your technology choices.
    • Give a short overview of your core business.
  • Explain your product or technology’s market position and interactions with other systems. Then start to drill down on your product and why it is so great.
    • If your product depends on other products then consider explaining those relationships and how that ecosystem works.
    • Letting us know who your main competitors are can give us a good frame of reference when evaluating the technology.
  • If you have more than one technology or product, select just one or two products to cover. If you have more technologies, think about attending another Tech Field Day in the future.

During Your Presentation…

  • Introduce yourself, and post your name and title so that people know who you are and how to write your name correctly.
  • Set a timeframe for your presentation and expect it to take double the amount of time due to questions.
  • If you are expecting 15 delegates, please make sure you have seating for at least 20. Standing room only may ‘look good’ but adequate seating is better for live blogging about your product / technology.
  • Make sure a whiteboard is handy, a big one is best. With pens. In different colours. And expect the attendees to be loud and argumentative with inline questions and side discussions, its faster and more fun than being nice. Nice comes later.
    • Where possible focus less on PowerPoint and stick to the whiteboard for interactive explanations. We love that.
    • We will probably take photos of the whiteboard to refer to later when writing.
    • Please no CLI demonstrations – they just don’t work.
  • Expect comparision of your product / technology to other manufacturers technologies.
    • Its okay to say your technology is better in some areas, while your competition has some better offerings in other areas. Be ready to defend such commentary, however.
  • Your openness to the Tech Field Day delegates will make all the difference. Hiding, concealing information is not beneficial to anyone, and the delegates will notice.
  • It’s absolutely fine to not disclose future plans, but its valuable to throw some crumbs around and let people pick on it.
  • If the product or technology you are presenting on works around some standards, bring a point to mention how the use of standards has helped make your products better.
  • Bring your technical gurus along! Not everyone is an expert, but assume there is always at least one person there who will want to know the deep down technical workings.
    • This one person may end up comparing your product to that of the competition or question the market acceptability, product feasibility, pricing structures, business models, etc. Again these questions shouldn’t be taken negatively by the presenter, but as a positive comment since that person is trying to learn something new based on the knowledge and experience that they already have.
    • As a group, we tend to feel someone with a Technical Marketing Experience along with a Senior Technical Product Architect seems to accomplish the job.
    • It may be a good idea to bring in someone from higher management to get them introduced to the GestaltIT Delegates. We saw that work very well with about 2 or 3 different companies during Tech Field Day 1.
    • Overall the idea is to bring the “Best of the Breed” team to meet up with the Tech Field Day delegates.
  • Our experience has been the presenter should have, Passion + Experience + Presentation Skills which will convert into an Ultimate reciepe for setting up the stage and sending the message across.
    • Its very important the person presenting the product believe in the product himself /herself, has a passion for what he/she does, has a passion for the organization, has a passion for the technology he/she is working on, those are the ones that tend to be the best in being able to deliver the message across.
    • Please do not say “let me check on that answer for you from my engineering department.” You should bring someone who knows the answers.
  • Provide a USB thumbdrive full of your product literature and your presentation slides if possible. This wil help us write posts later.
  • If an account or subscription is available, consider making a time-limited evaluation account available to all attendees.

During Your Demo…

  • If you set up a demo, make sure people can actually use it and roam free through the demo.
    • Setting up a standard demo is not bad, but make sure people have the room to play with a demo set up if they want to.
    • Expect to handle weird, technical questions. Have clever people nearby.
  • Make sure you’ve run through your demo a few times!
  • If you can hand over self destructing VM’s or limited version VM’s for our home use, it will enable us to gain future hands on experience about the product so we can write more about it, include screenshots and investigate other features, and possibly compare it to some other technologies in the industry.
  • Put the lab materials on the aforementioned USB drive with your product and presentation materials


  • Providing an electronic copy of your presentation is preferred.
    • Don’t be shy to load a memory stick with graphics, PDFs, manuals, reviews. You’ve already got it, we can choose to ignore it, but it’s really useful to have.
  • Provide contact emails and names for us to ask questions later. Sometimes we only think of questions after spending hours of vibrant discussion with pens, beer mats and tablecloths.
  • If possible, provide the Tech FIeld Day Delegates with a fast internet connection, since during a typical presentation or a small break, the delegates will upload pictures, upload movies to youtube, send real time tweet and write blog post. Possibly check work emails as well.
  • If possible, provide extra power outlets forTech FIeld DayDelegates to power laptops and other electronic devices.

In Summary

So, to sum it all up. You are hosting an event based around an online community of experts in their respective fields. Since they are going to want to push out all the info they can get their hands on, make sure you provide them with a surrounding that enables them to do so! Have an internet connection ready that allows for tweets, video posts and live blogging. Make sure that you are open for an honest debate and put some people in place who know their stuff so that answers can be provided on the spot. Don’t be afraid to be passionate about your own product and you can compare your line-up to other vendors or providers. Don’t bash the others, provide us with facts and we will make up our own minds which product is better.

Or in short: Know your stuff, be passionate about it and explain why you do what you do so well!