My 9 Step Process for Building a Presentation

“How do you build a presentation?” I’ve had the question asked of me a few times recently. And I’ve had enough flights recently to spend some time thinking about the answer. As I mentioned, before I could actually answer the question I had to write this other post about clarity and empathy. Go read that and then come back. With that as context, here is my stripped down process – my 9 essential steps to building a presentation.

1 – Find the nucleus

I start with a few pithy quotes or few, very few, key points. In the case of my “Killing IAM” talk, all I had was the phrase “Behold the comma.” For my more recent “No One Is An Island” what I had was “Hierarchies and our love for them is the strange love child of Confucius and the military industry complex” and “Treating people like just nodes just rows in a database is, essentially, sociopathic behavior. It ignores the reality that you, your organization, and the other person, group, or organization are connected.” What you need is just enough to grow a talk upon.

2 – Build an outline

Next up – I build an outline. The top-level items will become the sections of the talk. Under each top-level item I add just a few bullets, the essential points for that section. I’ll also add cues for visuals where I can. Sometimes I have a strong image in my mind how to illustrate a certain point, or there’ll be a joke I want to tell that requires a visual. Don’t stress over not having visual cues; they’re nice to have but by no means required to proceed to step 3.

3 – Write the speech

Yup. I write out my full talk. All of it. Write out the story that you want to tell. Hit each top-level item from the outline; make them headers. Weave the associated bullets into full sentences. Paragraphs grow from there. I will also put in parenthetical notes to myself for visuals, staging, and other things I want to remember when I present. I’ll also put in the quotes and ideas that served as my nucleus.

You might be surprised to learn but I don’t spend a ton of time of the actual writing. It takes me about an afternoon or so to write a speech. Your mileage may vary.

The text should flow. If it doesn’t, then you aren’t ready to write it. Go back to your nucleus and ask if it inspires you. Go back to your outline and look for weaknesses and holes.

As for length, I find that each page of single spaced text is about 3 to 4 minutes of talk. To get a sense for how long your text is, fire up text to speech. Time how long it takes the computer to read the text. This will give you a sense if you are in the right neighborhood lengthwise. Continue reading My 9 Step Process for Building a Presentation

No Person is an Island: How Relationships Make Things Better

(The basic text to my talk at Defragcon 2014. The slides I used are at the end of this post and if they don’t show up you can get them here.)

What have we done to manage people, their “things,” and how they interact with organizations?

The sad truth that we tried to treat the outside world of our customers and partners, like the inside world of employees. And we’ve done poorly at both. I mean, think about, “Treat your customers like you treat your employees” is rarely a winning strategy. If it was, just imagine the Successories you’d have to buy for your customers… on second thought, don’t do that.

We started by storing people as rows in a database. Rows and rows of people. But treating people like just a row in a database is, essentially, sociopathic behavior. It ignores the reality that you, your organization, and the other person, group, or organization are connected. We made every row, every person an island – disconnected from ourselves.

What else did we try? In the world of identity and access management we started storing people as nodes in an LDAP tree. We created an artificial hierarchy and stuff people, our customers, into it. Hierarchies and our love for them is the strange lovechild of Confucius and the military industrial complex. Putting people into these false hierarchies doesn’t help us delight our customers. And it doesn’t really help make management tasks any easier. We made every node, every person, an island – disconnected from ourselves.

We tried other things realizing that those two left something to be desired. We tried roles. You have this role and we can treat you as such. You have that role and we should treat you like this. But how many people actually do what their job title says? How many people actually meaningful job titles? And whose customers come with job titles? So, needless to say, roles didn’t work as planned in most cases.

We knew this wasn’t going to work. We’ve known since 1623. John Donne told us as much. And his words then are more relevant now than he could have possibly imagined then. Apologies to every English teacher I have ever had as I rework Donne’s words:

No one is an island, entire of itself; everyone is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, we are the less. Anyone’s death diminishes us, because we are involved in the connected world.

Continue reading No Person is an Island: How Relationships Make Things Better

The Only Two Skills That Matter: Clarity of Communications and Empathy

I meant to write a post describing how I build presentations, but I realized that I can’t do that without writing this one first.

I had the honor of working with Drue Reeves when I was at Burton and Gartner. Drue was my chief of research and as an agenda manager we worked closely in shaping what and how our teams would research. More importantly we got to define the kind of analysts we hired. We talked about all the kinds of skills an analyst should have. We’d list out all sorts of technical certifications, evidence of experience, and the like. But in the end, that list always reduced down to two things. If you have them, you can be successful in all your endeavors. The two most important skills someone needs to be successful in what they do are:

  • Clarity in communications
  • Empathy

Continue reading The Only Two Skills That Matter: Clarity of Communications and Empathy

Finding your identity (content) at Dreamforce

Dreamforce is simply a force of nature (excuse the pun.) There are more sessions (1,400+) then you could possibly attend even if you clone yourself a few times over. And that’s not even including some amazing keynotes. Needless to say there’s a ton to occupy your time when you come join us.

The Salesforce Identity team has been putting together some awesome sessions. Interested in topics such as single sign-on for mobile applications, stronger authentication, or getting more out of Active Directory? You need to check out our sessions!

I’ve put together a handy list of all of the identity and access management content at Dreamforce 14. Hope you find it helpful and I cannot wait to meet all of the Salesforce community grappling with identity management issues. Continue reading Finding your identity (content) at Dreamforce

Do we have a round wheel yet? Part 2 of my musings on identity standards

Yesterday I talked about the state of identity standards with regards to authentication and authorization. Today I’ll cover attributes, user provisioning, and where we ought to go as an industry.

Attributes

The wheel of attributes is roundish. There are two parts to the attribute story: access and representation. We can access attributes… sorta. There’s no clear winner that is optimized for the modern web. We’ve got graph APIs, ADAP, and UserInfo Endpoints – not to mention proprietary APIs as well. Notice I added the constraint of “optimized for the modern web.” If remove that constraint, then we could say that access to attributes is a fully solved problem: LDAP. But we are going to need a protocol that enables workers in the modern web to access attributes… and LDAP ain’t it.

As for a standardized representation, we have one. Name-value pairs. In fact, name-value pairs might be the new comma. And although NVP are ubiquitous, we don’t have a standard schema. What is the inetOrgPerson of a new generation? There is no inetOrgPerson for millennial developers to use. But does that even matter? We could take SCIM’s schema and decree it to be the standard. But we all know, that each of us would extend the hell out of it. Yes we started with a standard schema, but every service provider’s schema is nearly unique.

 User Provisioning

User provisioning is nearly round. Let’s face it the wheel that SPML v2 built was not round. The example that the standard provided wasn’t even valid XML – not an auspicious start. In fact, SPML was a step away from roundness when we think about DSML v2. DSML v2 was a round wheel. It wouldn’t be very useful to day but it would roll.

So what about SCIM? I’m bullish on it. Some really smart people worked on it, including my boss. We (saleforce.com) are supporting it. Others such as Cisco, Oracle, SailPoint, Technology Nexus, and others are supporting. We hope you support it too. In fact, hopefully, at the end of this week it might just get a final version of the 2.0 draft at the IETF meeting in Toronto. SCIM definitely needs more miles on the road, but I believe that the use cases that have been used to form SCIM are fairly representative of a majority of use cases we have. It can’t do everything but better believe it can do something.

And this narrow focus is important as we think about the work we must do. As we as an industry shift from just dealing with employee identities to those of customers, citizens, and things, there is shift from heavy rich user provisioning to lighter weight registration and profile management. SCIM is just as applicable in an employee identity scenario as it is in a customer identity scenario. And thus is well positioned to make the transition. Continue reading Do we have a round wheel yet? Part 2 of my musings on identity standards

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