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Thread: What makes for a good security presentation?

  1. #1
    King Tutorial-ankhamun
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    What makes for a good security presentation?

    Iíll be doing a presentation soon (http://www.indiana.edu/~cacrsum/program.html). I wanted to know what you think makes for a good, interesting and useful presentation. My current planed methodology is as follows (copied from the Flash file Iím using for slides):

    ďSounds boring as hell to me. A bunch of managerial types wafting hot air on various pithy, high level statements that are brutally obvious to anyone with half a clue. I would rather subject myself to the tender mercies of the North Korean Police. They should have technical content of which there is none.Ē ~Alt.don from Security-Forums.com

    Target Audience: Workstation Installers, System Admin, Security Folk and General Gear-heads.

    Presentation Format:
    1. Explain the background of the exploit.
    2. Show the exploit.
    3. Point the audience towards countermeasures. Ď

    A Flash video version of this presentation, with narration, should be available from my website. Links to most of the software mentioned can be found though out the presentation.
    What makes for a good presentation in your opinions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Try to have fun with it. Get the audience to participate. If it is going to be a small presentation, then 'just the facts, ma'am' will work. If it is going to be a long presentation (over 15 mins), then I would try to get a few people to 'act out' parts of computer users and help/show them the correct way to do things (throw in a few jokes if possible).

    It will be more memorable than just a slide show and one person talking with the rest of the folks wishing they were sleeping.

  3. #3
    BS, EnCE, ACE, Cellebrite 11001001's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Just West of Beantown, though nobody from Beantown actually calls it "Beantown."
    Some things I've learned:

    Don't be overly long-winded. You want to make sure you keep your audience's attention, so you don't want to put them to sleep.

    Throw in a joke every once in a while. Even the most serious presentation has room for a chuckle.

    Even concidering the target audience, don't weigh yourself down in techno-babble.

    Good luck
    That's Officer 11001001 to you...
    Now you see me | Now you don't
    "Relax, Bender; It was just a dream. There's no such thing as two." ~ Fry
    sometimes my computer goes down on me

  4. #4
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Redondo Beach, CA
    To add to what's been suggested:

    Powerpoint slides are for bullet-points, not gobs of text.

    Black on White, White on Black work great. Light green on red is a bad idea (there are surprisingly alot of colour blind people out there). Use good contrasting colours.

    Fancy font faces might look "groovy" but they're hard to read from the back. Stick to simple ones and be consistent with it.

    Speak LOUD! Literally you should be able to speak without a microphone (just in case it happens). And remember that others will talk while you're yapping. Don't take it personally.. it happens to the best of us.

    Engage the audience. Get them to respond to a question or two.

    Jokes aside, good stories go a long way. If they are humerous, bonus! I'm amazed at how much my students retain when the particular lecture I cover has a specific story (best one I've had for troublesooting and the importance of Access Controls was a story my friend told me when he worked at an insurance company. Apparently the manager had installed an "All-in-One" ATI Wonder card and was complaining about the fact that the machine said there were no IRQs left. My friend not knowing how to deal with this person -- and not wanting to piss off the wrong person -- passed it on to his boss, who knew what to do. He told the "IRQless" manager to go to Radio Shack as they sell them in packs of 15 or 25 -- and had made arrangements with the local Radio Shack to string the guy along "Oh sorry sir. We're out of stock.. try back next week")

    If someone asks you something and you don't know, say so. To help, have a piece of paper to write their name down and/or email along with the question so you can get back to them on whatever the question is about.

    Stuff happens. Be prepared for the worst (e.g., have a printout of your powerpoint in case they don't have it working or something else goes wrong).

    Most of all, have fun. If you are enjoying it, the audience picks it up. If you're not, they'll pick that up too.
    Goodbye, Mittens (1992-2008). My pillow will be cold without your purring beside my head
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  5. #5
    King Tutorial-ankhamun
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    This is making me think about how wordy I want it to be. I was planning on making a Flash presentation, narrating it, then turning off the sound when I give it live. That way, when the audience goes to see the slides later they have as much information as possible. Unfortunately, this may come off as too wordy during the live presentation.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004

    A good presentation has the attention of the audience during
    the whole talk. How to achieve this? For example by making
    them wondering or curious.

    Sorry for criticising your format, but when you first explain
    the background of the exploit, they are falling asleep before
    they actually get an idea of the exploit. First, show the exploit,
    show them what you can achieve - show something, which gives
    headache to every admin of security guy. Second, show how you
    did it, which then naturally leads to strategies for countermeasures.

    A few more comments:

    - Engaging the audience can be counterproductive. If they do not
    feel comfortable being asked or having to help with something,
    they are sitting there thinking "please not me, please not me"
    rather than listening what you are saying. On the other hand,
    it can motivate some students to pay attention in order not to
    embarass themselves, when they do not know an answer, which
    they should. Should you do that with your audience?

    - "have a printout of your powerpoint in case they don't have
    it working or something else goes wrong".
    Someone here has experience in giving talks In addition, I
    always have a copy of the pdf/ppt/pps-file on a memory stick.

    - avoid yellow, green - bright colours in general - completely.

    - avoid fonts in different colours - they distract the eye, which
    has to focus more than usual, such that the audience will get tired
    more quickly (it's a fact ).

    - avoid slides with too much information on it, but still
    - take 2-3 minutes per slide. not less. cut, if necessary!

    Good luck!

    If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
    (Abraham Maslow, Psychologist, 1908-70)

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