Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Technical Presenations - 11 Tips to Help!


#1 Organization: Technical presentations should contain an agenda/outline and a summary. It's always good to tell the audience what you're going to tell them and then summarize what you told them at the end.
#2 Conclusions not Guesses: Provide conclusions when presenting data. When charts/graphs are shown let the audience know the conclusion - what the information tells us. Don't expect the audience to draw their own conclusions from data, there will be many many questions which may not be relevant to the discussion.
#3 Fonts & Colors: Use large fonts. A funny rule of thumb is Mean Age - 10. If your audience is an average of 50 years old, use a font size of 40!! Avoid using colors which do not mesh well on a projector. For example, using a black background with dark blue lines is almost impossible to see on a projector.
#4 Labels & Legends: All charts should be clearly labeled and should always contain a nice legend. When using multiple slides to present similar data, use the SAME scale on all the plots, this helps the reader calibrate easily to better comprehend the message.
#5 Anticipate & Be Ready: Anticipate questions that might come up and be ready to answer - or better yet keep these from coming up.
#6 "I don't know" is better than making stuff up. It's best to say, "I'm not sure" than to try and fumble your way through and guess at information.
#7 Stand Up!! Stand and speak so everyone can hear. Look at your audience, speak clearly, and make sure you are speaking loud enough so the room can hear.
#8 Technical Accuracy: Technical accuracy is king. If calculations, data, information is incorrect early, your entire presentation will be difficult. Unfortunately (or Fortunately in some cases), it's human nature to find faults, so make sure conclusions are correct, calculations are correct, and the data supports conclusions.
#9 Pace, don't run.. walk: You are taking your audience on a journey. No need to run. Keep a steady slow pace, speaking clearly, and slow enough for folks to follow. Don't directly read the slides, if you need notes it's best to print out notes to read. Reading the exact bullets on your slides is a no no. This approach is boring for everyone. Slides should simply highlight the points you are making verbally.
#10 Number of Slides: Plan on 3 minutes per slide. If you have a large amount of data, plan on 5 minutes per slide to explain the information and answer any questions.
#11 Nervous? Show up early and give your presentation to an empty room. If you get really nervous speaking in front of groups, it really helps to show up early, walk around the room, and present the presentation to an empty room. Practice is very important. If you can have someone sit and review this really helps.

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