As a president of a local PASS chapter, one of the things I've struggled with is getting "locals" to give presentations. We have a couple of guys who have done so, but part of the reason local chapters exist is to go folks an opportunity to develop their professional skills in a safe and friendly environment. At the last SQL Saturday, Andy Warren and I talked about this problem, as he's had a bit more success getting folks involved. However, he has seen it as a problem, too, and has developed a course to help those who want to learn how to do presentations. It's a great start. If you really want to work on your speaking skills and you're not just concerned about technical speaking, Toastmasters International is a great organization. I joined about a year ago and it is a friendly, safe, and encouraging place for me to work on my presenting skills. It also helps developing listening skills as well as as the ability to think on one's feet. I cannot recommend it enough.
But speaking ability alone doesn't make for a great presentation. Scott Hanselman has a great post about achieving a successful technical presentation. #3, about when to move, is something I have to be conscious of, because I tend to like to walk as I talk. Another area that's related is my hands. When I think about my hands, I do a good job of using them to aid the presentation. When I don't, they can be distracting. #4, font size, is extremely important, too. At the Midlands PASS chapter we had one speaker who had font sizes so small you couldn't read anything on the screen. She didn't do anything to fix the issue and this was remarked on privately after the presentation. At the last SQL Saturday I asked what was viewable, but I should have already had my fonts set, as Scott recommends. I'm filing that away for next time. #6. knowing the presentation completely, is another one I saw as a problem with that presentation. The presenter had great information, but when asked specific questions, she couldn't respond. This didn't go over very well with the folks who were interested in her subject. And finally, I love his #11, care. I present on SQL Server security because I care about SQL Server and I care about security. Both are passions for me professionally. So when I get to mix the two, oh boy! But it is hard to give a presentation on something you aren't personally interested in. Folks will know. I was stuck in that situation in college when I gave another guy's presentation of his physics research. It was required for our undergrad requirements but at the last moment he couldn't be there. He gave the presentation privately to our physics instructors and I gave the public one because he was already on the schedule. I tried my best, but it was an area that I wasn't very interested in. I don't know how well I did, because everyone knew what was going on, but I know I couldn't carry it with the same passion as my own research presentations.