BILTna 2017 Top Speaker Joe Banks

I remember the first time I did public speaking, it was a high school debate, and I was unprepared but still managed to crush it. I found the experience to be really exhilarating and I learned a lot. It suddenly occurred to me that the audience is typically on your side, they want you to do well. A lot of the presentations they have seen are going to be dull and monotonous death by PowerPoint. If you put in even a little bit of effort to make yours interesting, honest and a bit funny, people tend to be quite grateful. Remember everybody in your class is there to learn something and they want you to do the best you can. More recently, I’ve even started an Audio Podcast titled, “The Architect Show“. I hope you’ll listen in and let me know what you think!

The reason I keep speaking at BiLT is that it has a good return on investment. I typically spend between 100 to 300 hours preparing a talk or a lab class. The reward you get from presenting at a conference of this level can be dramatic – just don’t expect to get anything tangible immediately. You generate interest in the work that you’re doing, you get feedback from industry peers that is invaluable to making progress and you also raise your profile and the profile of your employer in the industry.
I’m lucky to work for a great company like nettletontribe that sees the value in this type of experience and exposure and how the knowledge I bring back from a conference like BILT has a direct impact on my ability to do my job. It can be quite hard to explain exactly what you learn at the conference the week after you get back. But it becomes much easier to explain six months later with the benefit of hindsight. And sometimes the benefits are helpful years later.
I was thrilled to get the number one spot for best speaker for the recent BILTna. I’ve been in the top 10 a number of times before and I’ve always been so grateful to make it on to the list with some real industry titans. I take BILT quite seriously and I put a lot of time and effort into thinking about how I present my mannerisms, the cadence of my voice and really try to break bad habits like saying “Umm” and “Ahhhhh”. I also work hard to better engage the audience and keep my energy high. There’s a lot of work goes into the things that aren’t even about the topic. They’re just about presenting in the best way you can and making people feel at ease and perhaps even entertained. 
For those of you that are considering submitting your first abstract (or perhaps you’re a seasoned speaker looking for some tips to improve)  I can say without a doubt there is no substitute for preparation. The key thing I try to focus on in an all of my talks is not about memorizing what I’m going to say. But by making certain I know my subject matter back to front. I’m quite sure if I had to present a talk every day for a week, no two presentations would be the same. That said, here’s my top three suggestions on preparing a presentation for BILT:
Content. Typically you should build up a presentation or a lab by creating lots of little segments. Any of these segments should be able to stand alone with a start, middle and end. This way you can rearrange the order of them at any point in time if you want to tell a different story. It also means that you can mix and match the smaller pieces when doing training back at your office or presenting at other opportunities where you may only have 10 to 15 minutes. The presentation at BILTna I did on virtual reality and real time gaming engines for Revit is a good example of this presentation style. There is essentially 25 separate 3-minute talks all just presented together.
Timing. The other thing you need to get right is the volume of content and the timing, I find a good rule of thumb is if you’re presenting a 75-minute presentation you want to have about 80 slides. Think about it: nobody wants to look at one slide for more than a minute. If you’re going to use videos you should edit them down so they’re no longer than 2 minutes. I do heaps of video editing to make these as short and to the point as I can.
Recording. I rarely use audio recordings with my videos as this leaves you standing there passively looking like you don’t belong, I find it more engaging to narrate the video and look at the audience. This method is a good substitute for doing a live demo as it’s more time efficient and ensures that nothing is going to go wrong. Of course, sometimes a video might freeze or lockup! But that’s a lot easier to deal with than having Revit crash or making your audience wait while files load or things process.
I hope this has been helpful to somebody out there, Submissions are open for BILT ANZ, So please, have a go it’s lots of fun. Put the effort in and do it right, you won’t regret it!
I’d like to end this post by saying thank you for reading. Thank you to the BILT committee for putting on such a great conference and a very big thank you to nettletontribe for letting me attend. 
And one more thing – huge “Thank You” to my wife Laleisha! I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve missed her birthday three times and our wedding anniversary twice because I was speaking at a conference. She’s the best!
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