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Product Camp Dublin 2024 Preparation, Performance, and Post-Action

Updated: Jun 25

Debrief After Presenting at Product Camp

Presenting at a conference can be daunting, but having a structured process can make all the difference. Drawing from my experience at the past 5 conferences, I have developed a three-stage approach to ensure a successful presentation. I hope reading this helps you get some ideas on preparing for your next speaking engagement.

Here’s my process to prepare and present at a conference, with my talk at Product Camp Dublin 2024 as an example. This approach, refined through previous conferences, covers the preparation, performance, and post-action phases.

My earlier post on supplementary resources from the talk is here.

I spent 2 hours and 15 minutes writing this series of posts. You need 4 minutes to read this post.

Confident speaker presenting to an audience.
Confident speaker presenting to an audience.

3 Stages To A Successful Conference Talk

The three stages of a speaking engagement are:

  1. Preparation

  2. Performance

  3. Post-Action

3-step flow chart from preparation and performance to post-action.
3-step flow chart from preparation and performance to post-action.

Preparation: Diverging By Brainstorming Ideas

Steps within the preparation phase for a presentation include writing, slide creation, and rehearsal.
Steps within the preparation phase for a presentation include writing, slide creation, and rehearsal.

I considered a few topics to present at Product Camp. Ideas:

Preparation: Researching The Competition

I reviewed the other ideas proposed by speakers to gauge audience interest and avoid topic clashes.

Sessions in PCD 2024.
Sessions in PCD 2024.

I noticed

  • 2-3 genAI topics. They might draw a crowd due to the industry trend.

  • 2-3 career growth topics. They might might appeal to job seekers, a large percentage of the crowd.

  • 2-3 senior product leaders. They might attract attendees due to their credentials.

  • 2-3 consultants sharing their expertise.

I needed a way to differentiate from these or risk low attendance.

Preparation: Converging On An Idea

I did 4 things to converge on an idea:

  • Recorded a video walkthrough of my ideas and shared it with friends for input.

  • Spoke to a friend, Russell Cooper, a product leader on the Product Camp volunteer committee, to understand typical audience interests and segmentation.

  • Reviewed concepts from LEADERSHIP LAB: Writing Beyond the Academy 1.23.15 by Larry McEnerney, which reminded me that one way to provide value is to challenge common beliefs.

  • Created an evaluation framework. See below.

Preparation: Evaluating Topic Ideas

I created this evaluation framework:

  • Relevance to Audience: How relevant is the topic to B2B product managers, especially those in SaaS or software?

  • Innovativeness: Does the topic introduce new, creative, or disruptive ideas in product management?

  • Practicality: Can the audience apply the insights from the pitch in their own work?

  • Conciseness: Can it be presented succinctly within the given time frame?

  • Alignment with Personal Expertise: How well does the topic align with my own expertise and experiences?

Performance: Promoting The Topic

Performance includes the presentation to an audience.
Performance includes the presentation to an audience.

I created this write-up for the topic to publish on the Product camp website:

Title

Why Building Features Won't Solve Your Customer Problems – Here’s What You Need to Do Instead.

Description

I’ll share lessons I learned in making feature launches discoverable and measurable. I stumbled from one mistake to the next to achieve a reduction in customer support tickets by 40%, when I was a Staff Product Manager at Twilio.

Have you ever launched a feature but didn’t see customers use it?

How do customers find out about your product's features?

I refined my topic and content based on my experience presenting last year at Product Camp. I will use one topic from my work as a Staff Product Manager at Twilio. The session is tailored to address the interests and challenges faced by B2B, B2C, and B2E (internal) PMs.

This session will be hands-on, but you don't need to bring anything. I'll provide pens and paper for our activities in the hall.

I’ll share supplementary content on this topic through substack or here: https://www.harshal-patil.com/blog 

Performance: Pitching For Votes

I noted two action steps:

  • I should mention the pen and paper I got.

  • Wear a Sherlock Holmes hat. Photo by Bob Tait.

Harshal pitching his topic with props.
Harshal pitching his topic with props.

Pitch draft

I am here to tell you why building features won’t solve your customer problems and what you should do instead.

Have you ever launched a feature but did not see your customers use it?

When I was a Staff Product Manager at Twilio, I stumbled from one mistake to the next to eventually reduce customer support tickets by 40%.

I’ll share the mistakes and lessons I learned in making feature launches discoverable and measurable.

We’ll put on our Sherlock Holmes hats and discuss when, where, what, why, how, and how many - all these questions about your customers. I have these pens and papers for activities in our discussion.

My goal is to help every product person walk away from today’s session with ideas you can implement this month to improve customer acquisition or retention.


Harshal presenting in a class
Harshal presenting in a class

Follow-Up, Feedback, And Fine-Tuning

Post-action includes feedback and reconnection. But feedback has many ways.
Post-action includes feedback and reconnection. But feedback has many ways.

As part of the feedback, I kept track of questions I received and underlying concerns. I analyzed the anonymous feedback from the online form.

Harshal presenting at Product Camp 2024.
Harshal presenting at Product Camp 2024.

Additional Presentation Insights

Here are some more speaking engagement debriefs:

Helpful books and videos:

See supplementary resources for my talk at Product Camp Dublin 2024 here.


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