DFIR Training Blog



Three Fears in Presenting in DFIR

This is totally an opinion piece on my part. To be honest, I think every person presenting in DFIR (or presenting on anything to anyone at any place) has different fears, or more or less fears, and there might be one person without any fear in presenting in front of others. I say ‘one person’ because I have not yet met that one person and I even question the existence of such a human.

For those who haven’t presented much, or at all, or wonder what other presenters are afraid when they are speaking, this is for you.

Everyone knows more than you

This is true. Everyone does know more than you. But you most certainly know your topic better than anyone else in the room. That is how this presenting-a-topic thing works. They are there to learn from you and the work you did to get onto that stage.

You study, research, prepare, practice, and present. Usually that means you really get to know the topic that you will be speaking on much better than anyone else in the room. So, don’t worry about this one.

Everyone will go to a more popular speaker in my time slot

Stress is when you see your name in the same time slot as someone else who you feel is going to be more popular. I feel this way all the time, even to the point that sometimes I wish that I could attend the competing speaker’s talk….

In reality, your talk is most likely to be as popular as the next. We all have different needs, different expectations, and want to learn different things. Don’t worry about.

By the way, kudos to the inspiration of this post goes to:

But what if you get a smaller showing? Then everyone in the room gets a more personal presentation. Engage the audience. Talk directly to each person. You can get down to brass tacks with questions and more demonstrations with a few people than you can with a big room. Give it your all as if you had 1000 in the room and you will have no regrets. I can also promise that if you give your all to a few, as you would have given to many, the few will be more than satisfied.  Be the presenter that gives all, all the time, regardless of the audience or venue.

In this same vein, I have been asked to present to a small audience, came prepared for 40 people to be in the room. When I arrived, there were 500 chairs and my first plan was that I would be telling 40 people to please move up front as I expected everyone (as usually happens) would be sitting in the back. Surprisingly, it ended up being standing room only. Every seat was taken and people were standing in the back.

My point being:

1-plan on one person

2-prepare for a thousand

3-give it your all regardless of how many actually show up

I will do terrible and embarrass myself

I am not sure if this is my top fear, but it is a constant fear. I want to do a good job (actually, I want to always do a great job!) to make the time spent in preparing a talk worthwhile to those spending the time to hear me talk.

The little things of embarrassment, like malfunctioning equipment, or dropping a microphone, or tripping on stage are the things that you can’t control. It happens and by the way, no one cares. My feet grow two sizes larger as soon as I step on stage. I know this to be true because it feels like I am wearing clown shoes when I walk…<is this just me?>

The real things that I worry about is getting my information correct. I want to be 100% certain that everything I say is correct. That is my worry of getting something wrong. So I prepare like a madman. One hour of a presentation is more hours of preparation that I care to say openly. An entire workshop…that is a whole lot of preparation time to make sure everything is good to go without have to spot check during the presentations if I did something right or not.


My background is not like yours. Yours is not like someone else’s.  The recommendations that I have may or not fit your needs, but I believe there are some things you can do that will make every presentation that you do in the future, to be the best that you can do.

1-Take a course on presentations, teaching, or instructing

2-Double check everything you will be talking about one time more than you think you need

3-Go over your presentation one time more than you think you need

Of these, I found that being taught how to teach has been the most effective in giving presentations. It is one thing to know the material, but it is quite another to deliver it effectively. Let me date myself…..

In 1988, I attended a Marine Corps instructor course, and on the first day, the instructor (a Gunny) said, “In every presentation, watch me in how I teach you how to teach others.” That course blew me away in how to give instruction and every rule, every tip, and every method applies to every presentation that I have given since. I took another USMC instructor after that as well. Same goodness in the second course.

Years later, I attended an Army instructor course. Not bad. Reinforced what I previously knew, but gained a few new tips. Worth the time.

Years later, I took more than two dozen law enforcement instructor courses. Some were specific to a topic (like firearms instructor, etc..) and some were simply instructor courses, on how to teach.

Out of all of these, the most helpful training courses have been the purely simple courses on “ How to teach ” or “ How to present ” or “ How to instruct ” type of courses. There are so many nuances in effective instruction that will make an extreme difference in a presentation, that you can improve upon every presentation that you do without much effort at all.

So if you have a dozen fears, taking a course on how to present will reduce that dozen to three. These are the three that I just can’t get rid of, mostly because if I have no fear whatsoever, that means that I am not going to improve and not going to give my best. I need these three fears to stick around.

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Written by :Brett Shavers

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