How to Prepare a Technical Presentation (Part 1)
I work with a lot of technical experts — scientists, researchers, engineers, programmers, architects, financial wizards, and the like. Most of them struggle with one thing: they have a hard time presenting sophisticated material to a broad — i.e. non-technical — audience in a way that can be understood and put to use.
They’re frustrated that their ideas don’t get the hearing they think they deserve.
Here’s how to plan a technical presentation that stands a better chance of winning people’s attention and cooperation. (I’m breaking this post into a number of pieces, to give you all some breathing space.)
Rule #1: Focus
The main complaint of most people about most technical presenters is TMI. Too much information. They feel swamped by a tidal wave of data.
So begin with the assumption — and this is going to hurt — that you can’t say everything you know about the subject. You probably can’t even say everything that needs to be said about it. You have to limit what you’re going to say in order to fit the time you have available and to suit the attention span of your audience.
The operative words are prioritize and eliminate. It’s your job to know what to say and, just as importantly, what not to say.
Here’s my rule: when in doubt, leave it out. If the audience is really interested in knowing more, they can ask questions.
You may not be able to talk about, say, “nanotechnology.” But you might be able to address “the latest trends in nanotechnology” or “how nanothechnology can revolutionize pharmacology” or “federal regulation and nanotechnology.”
Focus. Focus. Focus. The more focused your presentation is, the more interesting and enlightening it will be.
Do you agree?