Developing and delivering technical presentations: The thought alone brings blank stares, yawns and drooping eye lids from most. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Transforming dull data by telling your technical story will make your information more relatable and keep your audience focused and engaged. The following tips will help you accomplish these goals and turn those boring presentations into a dynamic dialogue:
Three Tips to Tell Your Technical Story
1. Focus on the audience’s need for knowledge.
Technical professionals often tell me that their audience “just needs to know this information.” My question is: “Once your audience knows or understands your information, what will they be able to accomplish?” As the presenter, you need to tell your audience specifically how your information will help them. . Will they save time? Will they save money? What decisions will this information effect? This is important because it will help you edit your content to meet THEIR needs vs. providing more information than they truly need.
2. Too much content. Too little time.
The most common pitfall I hear from professionals who develop technical presentations is that they develop way too much content for the allotted time. They tend to cram it all in (it’s all important after all) and rush through it when it comes time to present.
In most cases, it will take longer than you think to communicate your information. You also need to build in time for questions and answers. In order to accommodate these variables, follow these guidelines:
a. For a 30 minute presentation, prepare 20 minutes of content.
b. For a 45 minute presentation, prepare 30 minutes of content.
c. For a 60 minute presentation, prepare 40 minutes of content.
If for some reason your presentation takes longer than expected, you don’t have to panic. You know that you have a buffer built in.
3. Validate by telling a story.
Illustrate why your information is important, good or bad for the audience. Answer the question: Why should they care? How will this help or hurt? Provide an example or story that creates context for the technical information. You could share an anecdote, tell a story, or refer to your own or someone else‘s experiences. For example: I was working with a chemist who was describing polymer formulas, but no one understood what he was talking about. When asked him to share a practical example of where we would see the polymer, he described the plastic coating on gardening gloves. That example made his information relatable to the audience and created an “Ah-Ha!” moment for everyone in the room.
- Read about our technical presentation skills training program, Get Technical, Get Factual, Get Results to learn how to tell your technical story.
- Learn more about presentation skills training for scientific professionals: Attend this program to be seen as a credible expert when educating, informing and persuading medical professionals, staff and consumers about your research, drugs and devices.