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DNN Summit 2022 Recap and How I Create My Presentations

Posted in DNN on February 23, 2022

This past DNN Summit 2022, I presented two sessions: “Tailwind CSS” and “Mega Menus with 2sxc”. I feel like they went really well overall and I saw a few people positively mention my presentations in DNN Community Slack as well as DNN SoFried’s Summit 2022 recap. So thank you for the mentions!

This has been my second time at DNN Summit, and the third time I presented a session. In this blog post, I want to recap a few of the things that I learned during this Summit as well as give you a high level overview of how I created my presentations.

Let’s start with how I created my DNN Summit Sessions.

Start with the idea

For me, the idea overall is the most important starting place. It sounds obvious, but I think I’m driven by that the most. And what I mean by that is if the idea doesn’t have legs, so to speak, then I don’t think it’s worth a session. The core idea for my session “Tailwind CSS” was that there is a newer, better way to make the best User Interfaces we can and we should pursue that - no matter what it is. In the case of “Mega Menus with 2sxc”, that session was mostly about finding ways to extend DNN in ways we didn’t think we could before.

Those ideas extend beyond the content of the presentations. In both a metaphorical sense and a literal sense because you could use what I presented in more ways than I showed. Tailwind CSS could be used as a DNN theme, or a module’s CSS, or outside of DNN completely. And the “magic trick” in my 2sxc presentation could be used for things other than mega menus like footers or even modal content.

There were other ideas of neat things I’ve learned and best practices that I’ve come up with over the last year, but I want to make sure my sessions give big, awesome solutions to problems. I want more than the “oh, that’s neat” kind of reaction. Ideally, I want people to leave my sessions with ideas that carry over into other parts of their work.

Write the outline and the script

Once I have my core idea, I spend (probably far too much) time writing out a script and reading out loud and rewriting it. I want my presentations to feel like there’s a structure. Typically, I like to present like this:

  1. Introduce who I am and what I do first
  2. then I show the issue that I run into
  3. and finally I show how to build the solution

Structuring in this way makes sense to me because if I were watching my own presentation, I would want to know the story of how someone got somewhere. I think that adds an important context to a presentation.

One big thing that I’ve learned is that I prefer audience interaction. So even though I’m writing a script, I like to also make sure to include that to have some spontaneity. I find it makes the writing easier but also more organic. In my Tailwind CSS session, I invited Chris from 10 Pound Gorilla onto the stage to show him, developer-to-developer, how things might be done in Tailwind CSS. I like how it makes it more conversational and feels more engaging. So thanks Chris for being a good sport!

Create the slides and demos

Once I have an outline / script, I make the slides in my own 2sxc app that I built last year. For me, the slides aren’t too important because I think the code and the demonstration speaks for itself. I know some people rely more on their slides to show the goods but I like the demos more.

For the demos, typically I make a working demo, and then deconstruct it for multiple phases. So during my presentation I start with the blank slate and build things up, and then when I need to jump forward, I jump to the working demo. For both of my sessions, I created the final working versions of a landing page and a 2sxc mega menu, and then I made half-built versions that I could show along the way. It’s kind of like those expedited cooking shows on TV where they already have the finished product baked in the oven but then they have all the pre-measured ingredients that they toss into mixing bowls.

My thinking is that if I show you what it’s like to start and the ideas you need up front, but then jump to a finish product, it’s easier to understand how I got there.

Run through

Once I’ve done everything, I actually do a run through with a friend to make sure that it makes sense and that I’m not missing anything. I’m very cognizant that an hour passes very quickly and I want to make sure that I cover the idea, even more than the features or solutions themselves in my presentations. If I feel like I’m missing the point, I go back and rewrite a little bit.

Showtime

During my presentation, I like to have my script and outline nearby and I will read off of it a little bit when I need to. But I also like to tell the audience that they can interrupt me with any questions and to prepare them for hopping on stage to help with the presentation. I want my presentation to feel structured but also friendly and informal.

Room for improvement

One thing I would like to do better on in my presentations are having code samples or working projects that my attendees can pull down and try out themselves after the session. So maybe next presentation I do I will focus on that more.

Another thing I’d like to improve is my timing of things overall. One hour isn’t a long time especially when you’re building demos. Time management is something I probably need to work on.

Lastly, for now, I’d like to be better at automating creation of these sessions. Because I’m brand new and learning, I still don’t have the “framework” nailed down so it takes a lot of effort to put everything together.

Summit 2022 Recap

Here are the things I’m super happy to have learned during the Summit:

  1. Formulas in 2sxc
  2. Polymorphism in 2sxc
  3. View Resources in 2sxc (thank you Daniel Mettler for the impromptu lesson)
  4. Page Templates in DNN (a nice reminder of this feature during a Sponsor Booth from Laura at 10 Pound Gorilla)

As for my presentations, I’m happy with how they turned out and I feel like I’ve got a pretty good approach that I look forward to honing for future speaking events.

For me, the biggest measure of success is knowing that people find it engaging and get value out of it. I hope to do more things like workshops outside of conferences to help other people in the community and hone my public speaking.

I hope that provides some insight!

What's your approach to creating presentations? Send me an email if you have any comments or questions!

Aaron Lopez

Aaron Lopez

Founder & Lead Developer at Wolf X Machina

Next Level Interface Development for the DNN CMS

DNN themes, module design, and more from Wolf X Machina.

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