Tag: Presentation

Presenting and Creating Great Tech Demos

How to Create Great Tech Demos and Presentations

I didn’t keep track of the exact number, but I did many presentations at different conferences around the world. Since I am doing a lot of tech presentations and demos, I am always looking at how I can improve and get better. I start to realize that there are a lot of things you need to consider when delivering tech demos during presentations, to make it better for the audience. I started to work on my demos a lot, and I realized that these things also work when you are recording demo videos or screencasts. That is why I came up with the idea to write this blog post with tips and tricks on how you can create great tech demos and presentations.

Create and tell a story, make sure people can see the result 🎬

People have a short attention span, so if you are switching to your tech demo, and in the first couple of seconds, your audience is already lost because they cannot read what is on the screen or they have no context at all, you lost them for good. You need to make sure you create and tell a story, and you show them how to solve a specific challenge. A tech demo is not just good if you can show how you address a particular challenge, but people need to understand it. For example, I have seen many tech demos, that tell you here is the problem, here is the setting to solve it, and done. They didn’t complete the full demo and showed that it is now working. Yes, of course, sometimes showing the setting is enough, but a lot of times you want to show here is the challenge, it is not working now, I do this, and now you can see it is working. This gives attendees a way better experience and understanding of your demo.

Create video recordings of your demos 📽

Live demos are great, but sometimes it is just not possible, or the experience of the attendees isn’t great. For example, if you start a task that takes 5-10 minutes to complete, you don’t want to wait for it to complete as your time is limited in a session. Which leaves you with three options. The first option, you prepare an already finished scenario to jump on like they do in cooking shows. Secondly, you show something else and let the task complete in the background, and jump back to it once it’s done. And the third one, you cut a video before and use your video editing skills to make the waiting time shorter. While option one and two, often work, I realized that jumping away from a specific scenario or using another object which already completed, may confuse people, they lose context and doesn’t give them a great experience. Recording a video can help with that. For example, one of my demos is replicating a virtual machine named VM1, and these can take 30mins to even a couple of hours. I could have prepared a VM2, which would have been already replicated and move on with that one. However, during a lot of presentations, I realized it makes it easier to follow for people if I can use the exact same VM name, during the whole demo.

Creating videos also has an advantage when you run into issues. This can be due to lousy conference Wi-Fi or something just broke out of your control. Even if you plan to do the demo live, it is always great to have a backup, especially if you are doing a demo-heavy presentation, where things build on top of each other.

Resolution and Scaling 💻

You can have the most fabulous demo of all time, but if people can’t see it, it doesn’t matter at all. Rule number one, if you have to ask if people can read it, people can’t read it. So make sure that you are 100% sure that people can see what is going on. My recommendation is, please set your screen resolution to whatever the projector supports. Most of the time, this will be Full HD 1080p (1920×1080) resolution.

Presentation Demo Screen Resolution and Scaling

Presentation Demo Screen Resolution and Scaling

Early in the days, we didn’t have scaling in Windows, so people were using lower resolutions to make everything appear bigger. Guess what, Windows 10 supports scaling, so I usually use Full HD (1920×1080) and 150% scaling, this makes an excellent size to see what is going on the screen but also makes the picture sharp and not blurry. Most of the applications can handle it, and most of the web portals also work the ways they should. That said, I know that not all applications and scenario scale very well. Depending on what you are showing, you need to decide how you want to present it.

Use ZoomIT, and use it wisely 🔎

One of the most excellent tools for presentations is Sysinternals ZoomIT by Mark Russinovich (not PowerShell this time, sorry Jeffrey 😉). ZoomIT is a screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations, and as the name says, it lets you zoom. This helps you not just to make things more readable, but also to highlight a specific part of the screen, to show people where they need to focus on.

ZoomIt is a screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations that include application demonstrations. ZoomIt runs unobtrusively in the tray and activates with customizable hotkeys to zoom in on an area of the screen, move around while zoomed, and draw on the zoomed image. I wrote ZoomIt to fit my specific needs and use it in all my presentations.

ZoomIt works on all versions of Windows and you can use pen input for ZoomIt drawing on tablet PCs.

ZoomIt

ZoomIt

While ZoomIT is excellent, you need to know how to use it right. Place the mouse where you want to zoom and then zoom in, don’t move the mouse too much after you have zoomed in, you don’t want people to become sick 😵. As you can see, ZoomIT also allows you to do screen annotations, to mark specific things on the screen. Again, use this feature wisely before you start painting on the screen. The great thing about it, you can also use a pen, like the Surface Pen, to draw on your screen.

Font Size and Editor Light Theme 🔠

Okay, one of the many problems I see with many tech presentations is happening when people show code. Coming back to what I said earlier, if you have to ask the audience if they can read it, they can’t read it, so please use a font size they can easily read. Even in Notepad and Terminal, you can easily zoom these days with CTRL + Mousewheel.

Notepad Zoom

Notepad Zoom

If you are showing code in an editor or even in a web portal, a dark theme makes you look cool. However, it is horrible to read. So please help the audience and use a light theme in your editor like Visual Studio Code or in the Azure portal.

Light Theme Editor

Light Theme Editor

By the way, I am not saying that you only should use light PowerPoint slides. Dark PowerPoint slides can be a very powerful tool if they are used right. However, for editors, it is just very simple and way better to view if you are using a light theme. One of my favorite Visual Studio Code themes to present is the PowerShell ISE theme. This theme gives you a simple and light theme, with great color options for syntax highlighting.

Clean up 🧹

You want to make sure that people in your presentation and during your demonstration are focusing on the right thing and don’t get distracted by any clutter. So before your presentation, make sure you clean up:

Close all unnecessary applications

Especially any messengers like Microsoft Teams or Slack, you don’t want to receive any notifications at all during your presentation (Except you are showing Microsoft Teams demos 😉). By shutting down all these applications, you also make sure that you have enough resources like Memory available.

Turn off notifications

Focus assist

Focus assist

In Windows 10, you have a feature called Focus assist, and this allows you to pause all notifications on your PC.

Hide all icons from your desktop

Hide Desktop Icons

Hide Desktop Icons

Yes, there is an option for that! Right-click on your desktop -> View -> Show Desktop Icons.

Browser

Browser

Browser

If you are doing a demo using a browser, make sure your browser is also cleaned up, hide your Favorites Bar, and any additional browser extensions, which might take the focus away.

Taskbar

Keep your taskbar clean, you don’t want people to focus on all the icons there and the program you have installed. You want to make sure there is as little distraction as possible.

Hide System Icons and Time

Windows 10 Turn system icons off

Windows 10 Turn system icons off

This might not always be needed, but if you want to make it cleaner and especially during video recordings, you can also hide the system icons and time. If you are opening the settings app and search for system icons, you can go and hide them.

Full screen

This is a simple one, but if you do a presentation, you don’t want your windows overlapping each other and be confusing, so run your applications in full screen. Exception for this is when you want to show two things in comparison to each other.

Use the Azure Mask browser extension for your Azure demos

If you are doing demos in the Microsoft Azure Portal, you want to have a look at the Azure Mask browser extension. This is a browser extension that will mask GUIDs (such as Subscription IDs), email addresses, keys, and connection strings with a blur. The extension intends to make it easier to do screen recordings without revealing sensitive personal account information that may show up on the screen. It will only run and apply against Azure portal URLs. It’s available in Chrome, Firefox, and also works with the new Microsoft Edge (Chromium).

Virtual Desktops to switch to your tech demo 💻

I am a huge fan of the Virtual Desktop feature in Windows 10. This basically gives you unlimited desktops on your Windows 10 PC, which is excellent for productivity. But I am also using Virtual Desktops during presentations, for example, for switching between the PowerPoint deck to a demo. One the first desktop, I keep my PowerPoint presentation in full screen open, and with CONTROL + WINDOWS + ARROW RIGHT/LEFT, I can switch to other desktops where I, for example, already have my demos ready. You can create new Virtual Desktops by pressing WINDOWS + TAB. This makes switching between PowerPoint and demonstrations, less messy.

Virtual Desktop

Virtual Desktop

If you are presenting somewhere, where you can plug in two devices, you can also use the display switch to switch from your presentation machine to your secondary demo machine, which will have a similar effect. However, a lot of smaller events, don’t have that setup. By using the Virtual Desktops feature, you can clean up the process of switching to different technical demonstrations.

Change Desktop Backgrounds and console colors 🎨

Use different Colors

Use different Colors

If you do a presentation with multiple systems or consoles, you want to make sure people can follow on which system you are working. For example, if you have two different systems deployed to servers, you want to make sure people can easily identify which server runs which application. For example, you can change the color of the terminal or desktop background of VM1 to blue and the one of VM2 to red. If you are working with Windows, you might also use Sysinternals BgInfo, to write the name of the system on the desktop wallpaper.

The mighty Mouse pointer 🖱

Mouse Pointer

Mouse Pointer

If you want to explain something and point to something on the screen, the mouse cursor is a natural option. However, you can also do a lot of damage by using it wrong. First, make sure people can see the mouse pointer. In Windows 10, you can change the size and color of the mouse pointer, so people can easily identify it on the screen. Next, don’t move it fast and don’t go crazy. Move the mouse cursor slow and don’t try to circle things or jump around the screen with it; people will go nuts.

In many cases, it is better to use a tool like ZoomIT, to annotate on the screen.

Laser pointer in PowerPoint 👉

PowerPoint Laser Pointer

PowerPoint Laser Pointer

Many people use PowerPoint for their presentations. However, not many people know that PowerPoint can be an excellent presentation tool. It comes with a lot of features people don’t even know about, and with many of them, it is with any tool in the world; if you are using it wrong, it will not help you at all. One of the tools I want to highlight is the laser point feature in PowerPoint. If you are a presenter, you might have these remote presenters with a laser pointer on it, where you can point on a wall or projected screen. However, in many cases, that is not a good idea. Often the laser pointer is too small for people to see it or in some locations, you have multiple projectors, and you can’t point at all of them at once. PowerPoint can help you with that. You can use a simple on-screen laser pointer to highlight parts of your slides. This comes handy when you show a large technical diagram, which we often try to avoid, but in some cases, it is necessary.

Get prepared 🔧

To deliver great demos, you will need to practice them. First of all, you need to make sure that they actually work, but also that the timing is right. No one wants to wait and watch at the screen for five minutes until something has completed. I usually run through the demo at least twice before my presentations, to make sure that the demo also works multiple times. I usually also run through it a couple of minutes or hours before I go on stage. Especially with demos running in the cloud, I want to make sure that they are still working. It is not just about cloud technologies that can change fast; for example, I also saw software and container images expire.

What if something goes wrong? 👻

Even if you did prepare like crazy, there can always something go wrong. Don’t worry, people understand that things can break. As long as you are prepared, handle it the right way and have a backup plan, you will be fine. If something doesn’t work, you can try to troubleshoot it quickly. But don’t spend too much time on it and move on to the next one, because the audience doesn’t want to see you troubleshooting for minutes. In some cases, the audience can’t even see or doesn’t even realize that the demo didn’t work. In that case, don’t point it out, just move on if the demo is not essential to your presentation.

Conclusion to create Tech Demos and Presentations 😎

I hope you enjoyed my tips on how you can create great technical (tech) demonstrations (demos) and presentations. Let me know what your favorite tips and tricks for great tech demos are!



Microsoft Ignite 2019 Thomas Maurer Speaking Hybrid Cloud

Microsoft Ignite 2019 Hybrid Cloud Management Session

Last week I had a fantastic time presenting and speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2019 in Orlando, FL. As mentioned before, I was presenting in the “Modernizing Server Infrastructure” learning path a session called “Integrating cloud technologies”. As you might realize, we had a little surprise in that session. Since we announced Azure Arc on Monday in the keynote, I was able to finally add the topic to the session description. You can now watch my Microsoft Ignite 2019 session about Hybrid Cloud server management online on-demand.

My Microsoft Ignite Session about Hybrid Cloud Server Management

In this session, I am talking about how our demo company Tailwind Traders uses Azure Hybrid Cloud services like Azure Update Management and Azure Arc to make their hybrid server environment, which is Azure, on-prem, edge and multi-cloud, even better.

Hybrid management technologies

Tailwind Traders has now migrated the majority of their server hosts from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2019. Now, they are interested in the Azure hybrid technologies that are readily available to them. In this session, learn how Tailwind Traders began using Windows Admin Center and Azure Arc to manage its fleet of Windows Server computers and integrated hybrid technologies, such as Azure File Sync, Azure Site Recovery, and Azure Update Management, to improve deployment performance and manageability.

I am speaking about technologies like Azure Arc, Windows Admin Center, Azure Site Recovery, Azure Update Management, Azure File Sync, and many more.

Here are some links to the technologies I am talking about:

  • Azure Arc for Servers – Microsoft Docs (link)
  • Azure Update Management – Microsoft Docs (link)
  • Azure File Sync – Microsoft Docs (link)
  • Azure Site Recovery – Microsoft Docs (link)
  • Azure Stack – Azure.com (link)

I hope you enjoyed watching my Microsoft Ignite 2019 session, please let me know what you think and if you want to see more of that content.



Speaking at the European SharePoint Office 365 Azure Conference

Speaking at the European SharePoint Office 365 & Azure Conference 2019

I am happy to let you know that I will be speaking at the European SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Conference 2019 in Prague. The conference will be held in Prague from 2-5, December 2019.

This year ESPC has launched “Azure @ ESPC19”. Hear directly from many of the world’s leading Azure experts and master your Azure skills by receiving the very latest Azure knowledge and innovation across 2 keynotes, 5 full-day tutorials and 40 in-depth sessions. View the full Azure @ ESPC19 program here.

I will be speaking in the Azure track about Azure Cloud Shell.

Mastering Azure using Cloud Shell!

Azure can be managed in many different ways. Learn your command line options like Azure PowerShell, Azure CLI and Cloud Shell to be more efficient in managing your Azure infrastructure. Become a hero on the shell to manage the cloud!

If you are planning to attend, don’t forget, you or your team can use my coupon code ESPC19SPK to receive a special €100 discount. I hope to see you there!



Microsoft Ignite 2019 Orlando

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2019

After speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2017, and at Microsoft Ignite the Tour 2019, I am happy to let you know that I will be speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2019 in Orlando, FL. As part of our Cloud Advocates team, I will be speaking in the “Migrating server infrastructure” learning path.

This learning path is designed for Microsoft Ignite and gives attendees an overview of how to update your on-premises server infrastructure so that your organization is ready to start its cloud journey through the adoption of hybrid technologies and migration of appropriate workloads. Learn through the story of Tailwind Traders, which has a substantive physical and virtual deployment of Windows Server 2008 R2 hosting domain and network infrastructure services, file servers, and workloads, including SQL Server.

Hybrid management technologies

Tailwind Traders has now migrated the majority of their server hosts from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2019. Now, they are interested in the Azure hybrid technologies that are readily available to them. In this session, learn how Tailwind Traders began using Windows Admin Center to manage its fleet of Windows Server computers and integrated hybrid technologies, such as Azure File Sync, Azure Update Management, and Azure Site Recovery, to improve deployment performance and manageability.

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2017 Theater

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2017 Theater

I will also be giving two lightning talks at the Developer and Architecture. These will not show up in the session scheduler, but they will be on Thursday 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm.

Connect your Windows Server to Azure Hybrid services

Learn how you can connect your Windows Server environment to Azure and enhance it with Hybrid services like Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery, Azure Monitor and many more!

Keep your servers up to date across Azure and on-premises using Azure Update Management

Learn how you can manage updates of your servers across Azure, on-premises and even other cloud providers using Azure Update Management

I am also happy to talk with you in the expo hall about the latest and greatest features in Azure, Azure Stack, and Windows Server, as well as learning from your experience. So join the Cloud Advocates team and me at Microsoft Ignite the Tour. Let me know if you are there and want to meet.

If you want to join, check out the Microsoft Ignite 2019 website. Orlando is already sold out. However, you can join the waitlist, and there are a lot of great community conferences like Experts Live Europe and others.



Experts Live Netherlands 2019 - Tech panel

Speaking at Experts Live Netherlands 2019 Breakout and Tech Panel!

I am happy to let you know that I will be speaking again at Experts Live Netherlands 2019! Experts Live Netherlands 2019 will take place on 6 June 2019 in Den Bosch. I have excellent professional and personal memories from the latest Experts Live Netherlands conference, and it is always a tremendous honor to speak at a such a great event. This year again, I will be talking about Windows Server 2019 and how it is will enable your hybrid datacenter.

Besides my Windows Server 2019 breakout session, I am proud to also be part of the keynote tech panel with Mary-Jo Foley, Paul Thurrott, and Marc van Eijk.

Windows Server 2019 - The Next big thing for Hybrid Cloud

Join this session for the best of Windows Server 2019, about the innovation and improvements of Windows Server. Learn how Microsoft enhances the SDDC feature like Hyper-V, Storage, and Networking and get the most out of the new Azure Hybrid Integration and Container features. You’ll get an overview of the new, exciting improvements that are in Windows Server and how they’ll improve your day-to-day job. In this presentation Thomas Maurer (Microsoft MVP) will guide you through the highly anticipated innovations in Windows Server 2019 and the Semi-Annual Channel including • Windows Server Containers • Azure Integration • Hyper-V features • Storage • Networking • Security • Windows Server Containers • And more!

There are still a couple of tickets left, so make sure you reserve yours soon! Our Microsoft Azure Cloud Advocates team with Anthony Bartolo, Orin Thomas and I, are hoping to see you there!



Azure Saturday 2019 Munich

Speaking at the Azure Saturday 2019 in Munich

Azure Saturday Munich is a free community-focused Azure event dedicated to educating and engaging members of the local technical community. Azure Saturday draws upon the expertise of local Azure IT professionals, developers and solutions architects who come together to share their real-world experiences, lessons learned, best practices, and general knowledge with other like-minded individuals. With 30 speakers delivering 25 sessions in front of 500 attendees. I am happy that this year I will be speaking about the Azure Cloud Shell on the Azure Saturday 2019 on May 18 in Munich.

Mastering Azure using Cloud Shell, PowerShell and Bash!

Azure can be managed in many different ways. Learn your command line options like Azure PowerShell, Azure CLI and Cloud Shell to be more efficient in managing your Azure infrastructure. Become a hero on the shell to manage the cloud!

If you want to use your Saturday to learn about Azure, come by and I hope to see you there!



Mastering Azure using Cloud Shell Session

Video: Mastering Azure using Cloud Shell, PowerShell and Bash!

At the NetWork 9 Conference in Neum and at the Global Azure Bootcamp in Switzerland, I presented my session about Mastering Azure using Cloud Shell. Since I got a lot of requests for the session to be online, I recorded my presentation and made it available for everyone. The presentation is a live demo and summary of my blog post “Mastering Azure with Cloud Shell“, which gives you an overview about the Cloud Shell and some of the advanced stuff you can do.

In the session you learn:

I hope you enjoy watching it and let me know what you think in the comments.