Making a Technical Presentation – Aid the Audience’s Understanding

Recently I attended a presentation entitled “Understanding Financial Statements – All Myths Debunked.” Given my background in financial accounting, I was looking for some more tips to help my clients who still remain intimidated by all things financial.

At the end of that presentation, I was more confused than when I entered the room and I was even doubting my knowledge of the topic. One of the chief purposes of presenting technical information is to help your audience understand that information. Yet, time and time again, presenters do the complete opposite.

Since it’s not in my nature to criticise without helping, I shared the tips below with the presenter and now I’m sharing them with you. I hope you find them as useful as he did.

1. Write a short paragraph describing your speech and submit it to the organisers to share with the audience. There is no need for all the mystery with a technical presentation, you’re not Alfred Hitchcock!

2. Remember that while your presentation should give the audience detailed information, they also want the benefit of your insight, your analysis, what you recommend… in other words, your unique perspective.

3. It is much better for you to take an aspect of the topic and address it in detail so that the audience at least have an understanding of that part of it. Trying to cover too many areas of a topic actually leads to even more confusion in non-tech minds.

4. When preparing your speech, organise your material using at least one of the main recognised logical patterns. This will allow your information to flow smoothly from point to point. Below are those patterns:

“Time pattern” enables you to organise your points in the order that they occur. E.g. past – present – future; first – next – last.

“Space pattern” organises your speech on the basis of some physical or geographical sequence. E.g. “The State of the Financial Services Sectors in the Caribbean.

“The Topic pattern” is a “catch all” or flexibility pattern which allows you to just list a series of statements and provide the information.

“Problem-solution pattern” is extremely useful for proposing a change, trying to get something improved, offering a new idea or recommending a plan of action. When well constructed, this pattern can be very effective.

5. If you have to give the same presentation a dozen times, customise it for each audience. Yes! The CEOs of the Environmental and Energy Association are not the same as the Entrepreneurs in the Beach Vendors Association and neither do they want the information on coastal zone erosion delivered to them in the same way.

6. Use sharp, crisp, clear sentences with active verbs and use examples, comparisons and analogies to make technical points simple. And reduce the jargon, please. If you must use a few technical terms to remind us that you went to university and that you are the expert, that’s alright. Just explain them simply.

7. If you suffer with “Largewordarrogantitis”, “Smallwordsyndrome” is the cure.

8. Practice your speech at home, never on your audience and when you do, practice with your visual aids as well, if you intend to use them.

You’re Halfway Through Your Presentation and You Realize “This is Not Working!”

You’ve prepared your presentation, you know your subject, and you know your audience. You have the presentation internalized. As you progress through it, you have this bad feeling that starts to grow. You’re halfway through, and you hear a little voice in your head that says, “This is not working!”

What do you do?

That was the exact question I got this week from one of my corporate coaching clients. His presentation is a “pitch” for a $150,000 per month contract. It’s extremely important to him and his company.

I took a minute to really think about it… and I remembered an amazing transformation that I experienced long ago during a comedy show.

Three of the best headliners were working a show together in Worcester, Massachusetts. There happened to be a function in the main room, so they had to move the comedy show. If you would’ve been there, you would have seen a room full of 115 people in a hotel basement. It was definitely not the best situation — low ceilings, a warm room, a pillar in the middle of the floor that obstructed the view for many of the audience members.

The first comedian was experienced and very talented. He took the stage and only received mild laughs. He continued to follow his routine and didn’t waver. The second comedian took the stage, and had almost exactly the same results. He, too, didn’t waiver from his original “planned” routine. The last comedian, Vinnie Favorito, took the stage, and started with his planned routine. He was about three minutes into it… and he stopped. He put the microphone down, pulled up a stool and said, “Guys, what’s the matter? What’s going on?” Vinnie changed gears, and abandoned the original plan that he always used – the plan that almost always worked for him.

He realized one crucial thing. The original plan will only work when you’re “connected” with the crowd. Sometimes a connection is easy to make. On occasions, like this, it’s not.

I was just amazed at how Vinnie stopped his flow and confidently changed directions. If he had kept going, he would have suffered the same mediocre laughs that the other comedians received.

If you find yourself in the middle of a presentation and it’s not working. Stop. Talk to them. Check-in. It’s perfectly legal to ask the audience where they are, and what’s wrong. It takes a true professional to do that.

By “checking in” I mean – literally – black the projector screen, step forward, and separate yourself emotionally and physically from what you were doing. It gets the audience’s attention and helps engage them right away. They feel the change, and they know it was not planned. You might instantly gain a connection. If you don’t gain that connection right away… I promise, “checking in” is taking a huge step forward to creating one!

How did it turn out? Amazing! He took a tough audience and completely turned them around. Will it work every time? It depends on many factors. However, if it is not working the way it is going, please change something!

We learn the most from the toughest presentations. Witnessing a master like Vinnie perform under difficult circumstances has taught me a great deal. What will you do the next time you notice it ain’t working?

Ideal Wedding Presents – Best Gifts For A Wedded Couple

There are a wide variety of gifts which can be presented to a couple which is newly betrothed or a newly wedded couple depending upon their need or the choice of the guest. A gift is the representation of affection and love and concern towards love. It is a custom being followed by people all around the world.

According to wedding etiquettes, all the people who are officially sent an invite are obliged to offer a gift to the couple irrespective of them attending the wedding or not. There is an exception here, people who stay far away or those who are not very close to the couple need not send in gifts to the couple.

A guest, who has been requested to attend the ceremony, has to gift the couple. But he/she is expelled from this obligation if they cannot make it to the event. However, a close friend or a family member will generally send some gift even if not able to attend the ceremony.

Gifts for engagements are not obligatory but have started gaining importance in many regions around the world.

There is a great deal of things which can be gifted to a couple on their wedding. It ranges from gift certificates to gardening tools, camping equipments to expensive china and also household appliances. The gift registry of the couple may also prove very useful in this regard. However, registry information should not be contained in the invitation and must be spread informally. The new trend which is gaining popularity is the action of couples in registering with a couple of retail stores or travel agents or online shops.

Mentioning about the gift registry in the invitation is not a great idea at all since it would not impress many of the guests. The people who are invited ought to get the choice to gift a couple on their wedding. Many times, the most loved and treasured gifts are those which turn out to be a pleasant surprise to the couple.

Gifts which would be sent post wedding are to be sent to the address of the couple’s new home or to the place of the bride’s parents. And in case you are planning to send the gift before marriage, you are supposed to send it to the bride’s residence. Guests may also choose to send the gift to the couple soon after they receive an invite. This saves the couple from getting tensed about moving the gifts after the reception.

On receiving a gift, the couple should make sure that they send a note of thanks to the sender soon after receiving the gift or within four months from the date of marriage. This is the appropriate etiquette to be followed when presents are received.