A Classic Tech Field Day Agenda

Tech Field Day has changed quite a bit as the presenters and delegates have put their mark on our shared event. But over the course of 18 Field Day events, a few “best practices” have emerged with regards to presentations. This document attempts to lay out a classic and successful Field Day presentation agenda!

The Presenter Matters Most

It is important to remember first that there are no universal rules to what makes a successful Tech Field Day presentation. In fact, the agenda found here is not what was used at many of the best presentations we have had over the last few years! In the end, our presenting companies are welcome to use any agenda or format they would like.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson learned since 2009 is that the presenter matters more than the presentation or the technology. Time and again, companies have stressed over their slide deck, their demo, or even the product itself, only to find that they “hit the ball out of the park” thanks to a fabulous, knowledgeable, likable presenter.

The ideal Tech Field Day presenter is quite a bit like the delegates themselves: knowledgeable, personable, technical, and interested in serious discussion. Most companies have many people fitting this description, but they might not always be the people called on to present at tradeshows and customer events. Before setting your agenda, take a look at the people you have to present and bring them in to the process.

The Perfect Field Day Agenda

Each Tech Field Day presentation slot is two hours long. This is a generous amount of time, allowing for a company and product overview, two or three topical discussions, and perhaps a demo. This is the ideal Tech Field Day agenda: A multi-part session with a few speakers and enough variety to keep everyone interested.

  1. Begin with a 15 to 20 minute overview of the company, the products, and the market. But don’t spend time talking about “the problem” you solve, your venture capitalists or financials, a “NASCAR slide” of customers, or the opinions of industry analysts! A marketing executive, founder, or VP is the ideal presenter for this session.
  2. Divide the rest of your Tech Field Day slot into 2-4 standalone segments, each 20-30 minutes long. These segments can include any or all of the following:
    1. guided discussion on a specific technological challenge that your product addresses particularly well led by a product marketing expert or solutions engineer
    2. A chalk talk or presentation diving into a unique technology or capability that separates you from the rest led by a CTO or knowledgeable techie
    3. An interactive demo showing the product in action led by a solutions engineer or even a customer
    4. A real-world customer discussion led by a solutions engineer or end user
  3. Many Tech Field Day presenters wrap up their session with an off-camera feedback session where they seek input and ideas from the delegates.

Each of these presentation segments will be posted as a separate video on YouTube and Vimeo. This increases viewership, since each video is short, topical, and approachable for viewers. Many delegates will also use one or two videos in their blog posts to illustrate a point they are making.

A segmented presentation is particularly valuable in case an issue arises. Sometimes, a presenter won’t work out or a demo will fail to function properly, and it’s always a good idea to have other content ready!

Tech Field Day Gotchas

Not every idea is a good one, so here are a few things to watch out for when planning your Tech Field Day presentation!

  • Tech Field Day delegates are wary of “suits” and sales-oriented presentations, so it’s a good idea to prepare your presenters for this unique, technical audience.
  • Make sure your technical experts are personable and interact with the delegates.
  • Live demos are better than canned content, but demos often fail! Make sure you’re ready to switch to a static screen or a summary of the results in case things go wrong.
  • Not every Tech Field Day delegate wants to participate in demos, games, and other hands-on activities. Watching a demonstration is often better than a hands-on lab.
  • Lengthy demos should be left running in the background (perhaps on another screen) while you go on with other content or discussions.
  • Don’t bother leaving time for breaks or “Q&A”; the delegates are eager to have every session packed with content and will ask questions as they come up during your session.
  • Some companies have hired former Tech Field Day delegates, but these are not always the best presenters.
  • Remember that the camera is rolling: Use the microphone and restate questions. But don’t get so focused on the cameras that you forget the delegates in the room!

Remember above all that everyone wants you to have a great presentation! The delegates are not there to jump on your mistakes and the organizing team and event staff are happy to help you plan your session. If you’re concerned about what to present or how to present it, ask us!