Top 5 Tips for Presenting at Hackathons

I attended the Sprint developer hackathon this week and the one skill set that was missing in 80% of the teams were presenting skills. Here are a few recommendations on how to present at a hackathons based upon my talks at conferences, Toastmasters classes and attending several events over the past 8 years:

1. Make sure your hack is ready to be displayed
Sounds obvious doesn’t it? But what I am saying is getting “all your ducks in a row”. Make sure the smartphone is ready or your computer is setup to be displayed on the projector. So many times I watch these presentations that are only allowed 3 minutes and it takes 2 minutes to get setup. Be prepared, get in line so you can present right when the timer starts and practice your demo.

2. Don’t rely on wifi
Like you might know, wifi at a conference is not reliable. I’ve had times where right at the last minute wifi doesn’t work and I’m wasting a few minutes of my 3 minute time slot trying to connect. If you can build a p2p app or wifi direct using the Android SDK then do it!

3. State the issue/problem and show how your hack solves it

Not all hacks need to have slides but prepare your presentation from an organizational standpoint.  Make sure that you state the issue that is out there in the industry/world and how you went about solving it.

4. Don’t show a PowerPoint presentation just skip to the demo
The judges have to sit thru 20+ PowerPoint presentations so instead show your passion for the issue, target audience and solution and then head straight into the demo.  If one of the judges works for a company that you’ve integrated their APIs or SDK then definitely show that particular feature.

5. Watch your time
Goes without saying but make sure you finish your demo in the time allocated. If you have 3 minutes then you should be concluding around 2:30 at the latest to leave time for questions or technical difficulties. Usually within a hackathon there is someone with a timer and will announce when your time is almost up but have a good understanding of how fast your demo takes when you practice it before hand.

Hope those tips help you out in your next hackathon presentation. I’m sure you have some tips too so make sure to add yours below in the comment section.

-Randy

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