3 tips for giving technical presentations

The stereotype of the “brilliant but non-communicating” systems developer is far from reality, but many who work with large amounts of complex and technical information find that sharing that information with those outside their sphere is challenging. Many technical presentations sadly disappoint.

For some their chosen area of expertise is ideal, partly because of low demand for communication skills in junior roles. As styles of working change and as careers develop the demands for communication skills increase. Because of this technical workers can unfairly find themselves underrated, outside their comfort zone and ‘stuck’.

With the right support, you can overcome these challenges. Try these three tips to give those technical presentations a boost.

1. Find their why

People are interested in technology for lots of reasons, but always because of what it will do for them. Try to imagine what your audience is looking for. Do they want to save money or have more flexibility in what can be done? Once you’ve discovered their “why” tell your audience how it will achieve it for them. Don’t assume that because you can see the connection that your audience will without your help.

2. Use slides with purpose

If you are using presentation slides don’t use them as your notes,  Powerpoint should be a visual ‘aid’ not a crutch.  Your audience will naturally read what’s put in front of them. If the screen is full of words they will be reading not listening to you.  Use headlines or diagrams to help your audience focus on your speech.  Keep your notes or script separate.

3. Keep to time

Timing is important, once you overrun you will lose your audience; this often comes from the presenter overfilling their presentation.  A common suggestion is to state your purpose in 25 words or less. Use this purpose statement to help you to clarify the information that your audience really needs for their current purpose rather than including all you know. Practise your presentation so you know how long it should take.

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