I have been doing presentations at work for a long time and I thought that I was awesome at it. Until I did a dry-run of a presentation to a group of Toastmasters a few years back. This has been the best advice I ever got around this topic.
It was a technical presentation full of diagrams and bullet points crammed with information. My evaluator, a very experienced public speaker and presenter did me an unforgettable kindness. It did not feel like the best thing at the time and only a few weeks later, after I got over myself, did I realise the value of the feedback he gave me.
He was honest and constructive. In no way was it destructive. That experience is one I have never forgotten and I am here to tell you what I learnt from it. When I do speeches and presentations that memory pops into my mind, every single time, without fail.
This is what I learnt:
- Minimalism – even if it is a technical presentation, slides should contain the minimum of information. Too much information will detract from the message. Use phrases as anchors for ideas and other information. Err on the side of visuals such as diagrams and pictures – a picture does indeed paint a thousand words.
- Talk to the slide – that experience was the first time I got to know what this meant – anyone can read a slide but they will not necessarily know what it is trying to convey. Tell the story, give the background of, flesh out the point anchored by the phrase.
- Assume not – just because the audience are people with the same technical and industry background as you, the best is not to assume that they know as much as you do. Instead of providing facts, make them meaningful to the audience. Ask yourself – “What do they want out of the presentation?” “Why are they here?” “What is my goal and outcome?”
Time is precious, do not make the audience think, “What a waste of my time. They could just have emailed the presentation and I could’ve read it for myself!”
What has been your experience with technical presentations? Please add to the above points, I would love to hear from you.
Come back tomorrow for J is for Jokes. How to include jokes in your talk. It will feature an interview with a speaker who is a pro at this.
This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge and Twitter id is @AprilA2Z