Presenting is not an easy thing to do, especially when you are presenting to a very technical audience. One of the hardest things to come to terms with as a technical presenter is the fact that you do not have all the answers. The good thing is that nobody expects you to. The hard thing is that the answers they expect you to have are the answers to the questsions they are asking. This is why it’s important to set your expectations up front, and to lead the conversation down the path you are prepared to take. Here are 5 Technical Presentation Tips that can help present to a technical audience.
Technical Presenter Tip #1: Don’t Read Your Slides
This seems like an obvious one, but all too many times a presenter that really knows what he’s talking about uses the slide deck as a crutch. Slides should provide a visual talking point, the rest should come from you. If you tend to use the slides as a crutch try creating slides with less information on them or don’t use slides at all. Lets move on to Tip # 2 of our 5 Technical Presentation Tips.
Technical Presenter Tip #2: Be Excited About Your Topic
This goes for a product you are trying to convince your audience to integrate into a network or a protocol that you had some part in the development of. If you aren’t excited about what you’re telling me then why should I be? You don’t have to be overyly excited, but don’t be a monotone video-on-demand (vod). We can get enough of those from vendor web sites. Lets move on to Tip # 3 of our 5 Technical Presentation Tips.
Technical Presenter Tip #3: Show Me What It Can Do!
If you’re going to show me a product or an application, I want to see it, not a bunch of bullet points. You have to demo the product! This can be tricky. 65% of live demonstrations go awry. Of course, 90% of all statistics are made up on the spot, but I’ve seen enough live demonstrations and done enough on my own to know that they almost never go as planned. You can overcome this by doing three things.
- Prepare in advance with a list of what you are going to do.
- Preconfigure the irelevant parts before hand.
- Have a colleague do the work while you talk about what’s going on. Think John Madden giving the play-by-play.
Take a look at the Wacom Cintiq 13HD Interactive Pen Display (DTK1300)
for annotating on a page while doing a presentation.
Keeping these things in mind can push a demo over the top. Now lets move on to Tip # 4 of our 5 Technical Presentation Tips.
Technical Presenter Tip #4: Speak Up!
Have you ever watched a TV show and the volume was so low you couldn’t understand what was going on? Think about how frustrating that is when you lose track of the plot. That can happen in your presentation if people can’t hear you. Sound is one of the most important aspects of a presentation. When it comes to technical presentations you may have equipment with fans that are louder than you are, AC units in hotel conference rooms are notoriuos for this as well. Don’t let background noise filter out your message. Talk louder.
Speaking of talking louder, some events involve a microphone on the presenter in which a presenter will speak more softly because they are mic’d up. Don’t do this unless you have a speaker booming your voice in the room your speaking in. This is specifically geared towards events like Tech Field Day. The Mic volume can be adjusted up or down as needed, but there are people in the room that want to hear you. If the audio is better online than it is in the room you are preseting there is something wrong. And now for the final tip of our 5 Technical Presentation Tips.
Technical Presenter Tip #5: Talk To Your Audience
Sometimes presenters have a tendency to talk to themselves rather than their audience. What I mean is you have to engage the people that are in front of you by asking questions, making eye contact, and moving around a little bit. The more you engage your audience the more people pay attention.
Wrapping-Up our 5 Technical Presentation Tips
By applying just one or two of these tips your technical presentaitons can be much more enjoyable for you and your audience. When people connect on a human level the time goes by much more quickly and you leave your audience wanting more as opposed to wanting to take a nice long nap. Technical Presentaitons succeed because of the presenter more often then because of the product being preseted. So work on your presentations and watch your buy-in increase.