Earlier than shifting into coaching and training, I used to be an IT Consulting Engineer for 25-plus years. To this present day, I’ve a left-brain bent. However I keep in mind the expertise that modified my perspective on what makes a robust technical communicator (trace: it includes each hemispheres).
I used to be watching a really senior engineer at Cisco give a technical presentation. This engineer was so senior and well-regarded, he held a prestigious Fellow place on the high-tech firm.
What struck me was that he was so good at illustrating his factors and holding the viewers rapt. I approached him after his speak and requested him, ‘What’s your secret sauce?’ He mentioned, ‘Every time I give a technical speak, I begin by explaining in a manner that my mum would perceive it.’
I actually preferred the best way he dove into deep technical element solely after he launched the ideas with temporary, compelling tales and vivid analogies. To me, that was an ideal manner to ensure everybody understands what you’re speaking about, with out dumbing down the content material.
What I’ve realized since then is that this sort of strategy to technical presenting doesn’t take away from the content material skilled’s credibility; as a matter of reality, it provides to it, particularly in the event that they’re addressing a combined viewers.
Delivering clear, complicated knowledge in a significant option to the folks and companies impacted is extra vital than ever—at work and in our communities.
To do it nicely, you would possibly must rethink a number of the hallmark left-brain preconceptions about the right way to craft and ship your speak. However belief me, it’s nicely well worth the journey.
Listed here are our high pointers . . .
1. Begin With Your Viewers in Thoughts
Who’re you presenting to, and the way is your foremost message or proposal related to them? How a lot element do they actually need or want? Your technical friends is perhaps pleased to dive into a lot of detailed knowledge. However how a few combined viewers of engineers, salespeople, and potential prospects? Or perhaps senior executives, who simply need the underside line?
For instance, let’s say you’re presenting to a combined viewers. One of the best technique can be to prepare your presentation so you start with a big-picture overview and foremost message/proposal for the non-technical folks; then a strategic stage of element for technical managers and technical specialists exterior your space; and final, a deep dive for content material consultants who’re aware of your work.
We consider it as an inverted pyramid of content material element . . .
It’s vital to keep in mind that completely different sorts of audiences worth completely different info and presentation types. Having labored with all ranges of presenters (and audiences), right here’s what we’ve discovered every prefers:
Senior-level executives favor content material targeted on the general impression of your knowledge or proposal: the price, ROI, and advantages. They need the high-level view, with govt summaries, options, and future enterprise implications. (Take a look at our downloadable PDF, “Find out how to Current to Executives: 23 Confirmed Suggestions”)
Non-technical audiences and technical folks in several disciplines additionally recognize higher-level content material. As well as, they usually need to know the way what you’re presenting will have an effect on them straight. Will it impression their workload or priorities? Will it delay different tasks they’re engaged on? Will it shift roles or obligations?
Technical audiences need content material wealthy in detailed knowledge evaluation, design specs, idea, and statistics. They anticipate you to know the jargon and to make use of technical phrases. They need to know in regards to the analysis behind your knowledge, and so they recognize info comparable to algorithms, process-flow diagrams, characteristic lists, and coding examples.
One presenter we labored with famous that with combined audiences, he begins by asserting, “At the moment, I will be doing a split-level presentation. The primary 10 minutes shall be a big-picture, market-focused abstract. Within the subsequent 10 minutes, I’ll present an summary of the expertise concerned. Within the final 10 minutes I’ll go into the element and current the outcomes of our code evaluate. Be at liberty to depart earlier than the following stage of element if that’s not what you need.”
So keep in mind, contemplate your viewers earlier than you get too far in crafting your presentation. By doing so, you can be extra . . .
By directing your presentation to the viewers’s wants, you’ll improve consideration and retention.
By creating an audience-centric presentation from the beginning, you’ll discover it simpler to plan and ship a related and memorable speak.
By speaking an motion the viewers can take on account of the presentation, you’ll have a larger impression (we go into this in “Determine an Motion Step,” beneath).
Right here’s a useful Viewers Evaluation guidelines we developed for workshop individuals.
Subsequent, what would you like the viewers to do with the info you’re presenting?
2. Determine an Motion Step
When you’ve analyzed your viewers, the following greatest step is to ask your self, “What do I need the viewers to do, suppose, or really feel on account of listening to this presentation?”
One frequent mistake many presenters make is to imagine the viewers understands what they’re being requested to do. Until your request is obvious and concrete, you threat creating confusion and dropping their assist.
Listed here are some fast examples of efficient vs. ineffective motion steps . . .
Once more, it helps for those who suppose by way of what you need your viewers to suppose, really feel, or do . . .
Now it’s time to dive into the core content material of your presentation . . .
3. Develop a Clear Foremost Message
Even if in case you have complicated concepts or knowledge to debate, your presentation ought to have a clearly said central goal or key message. Why are you presenting the info? What would you like your viewers to recollect?
A brief, clear, and compelling foremost message accomplishes a number of vital issues . . .
Listed here are some greatest practices for creating your foremost message so it’s clear and memorable . . .
As PowerSpeaking, Inc. Grasp Facilitator Rita Williams emphasised within the video, repetition of your foremost message—phrase for phrase—is vital. Analysis has proven that individuals are more likely to retain your clear, concise foremost message for those who repeat it no less than 3 times all through your presentation, at first, center, and finish.
When you’ve analyzed your viewers, recognized an motion step, and crafted your foremost message, it’s time to show to the substance of your presentation . . .
4. Make Your Content material Relatable and Memorable
Your knowledge alone is perhaps endlessly fascinating to you and your technical friends. However for those who’re giving a presentation or speak, you most likely have a bigger goal and a broader viewers to succeed in.
Perhaps you need to get a bunch of groups fired up in regards to the subsequent section of product growth. Maybe it is advisable enlist assist from different departments to make a system change. Or perhaps your crew wants finances approval from senior administration to launch a brand new mission.
Regardless of your goal, you’re much more more likely to succeed for those who assist your viewers relate to your content material and keep in mind (and perhaps act on) it after the presentation is over.
We’ve discovered that one of the best ways to do this is to craft a technical presentation that balances analytical and anecdotal proof—and connects with folks on a human stage.
Analytical Proof: Info and Figures
Analytical proof is often proof drawn from statistical info—particularly knowledge collected by systematic strategies. For instance, the variety of part failures reported in 1 / 4, the proportion of people that had antagonistic reactions to a brand new drug, or the ROI on a brand new service providing over a specified time frame would all be thought-about analytical knowledge.
Anecdotal Proof: Tales, Analogies, Case Research, Examples
Anecdotal proof tells a narrative fairly than drawing solely on numbers or percentages. Examples: A narrative about how a significantly sick affected person responded to a brand new drug, studying a letter from a glad buyer, or speaking about an expertise you had when calling your individual firm for customer support.
Some technical folks in our workshops bristle on the concept of storytelling or, as they’ll say, “attempting to be entertaining.” However being an entertainer isn’t the purpose right here. The purpose is that we’re all human, and pictures, metaphors, and tales spark our curiosity and lodge in our reminiscences extra simply than details and figures alone.
Working example: This powerfully vivid analogy from scientist and creator Carl Sagan:
“In actual fact, the thickness of the Earth’s environment, in contrast with the dimensions of the Earth, is in about the identical ratio because the thickness of a coat of shellac on a schoolroom globe is to the diameter of the globe. That is the air that nurtures us and virtually all different life on Earth, that protects us from lethal ultraviolet gentle from the solar, that by the greenhouse impact brings the floor temperature above the freezing level.”
In his ebook “Precise Minds, Doable Worlds,” psychologist Jerome Bruner estimated that details are about 22 occasions extra memorable when they’re delivered through a narrative.
When the mind sees or hears a narrative, it mimics the sample of the author’s or speaker’s mind. This is called neural coupling, the place in impact, the storyteller actually shares their sensory expertise with one other particular person. (A way more memorable expertise than taking a look at a spreadsheet in a slide presentation.)
“You can’t attain an individual’s head with out first touching their coronary heart, and the trail to the guts runs by the mind, beginning with the amygdala . . . We now know which mind chemical substances make us take note of a speaker (cortisol) and which make us really feel empathy towards one other particular person (oxytocin).” — Carmine Gallo, “Storyteller’s Secret.”
Many occasions, a easy analogy is an efficient option to make a posh subject clear and relatable. Considered one of my PowerSpeaking colleagues, Grasp Facilitator and Coach John Warren, informed me, “I nonetheless keep in mind a vivid analogy utilized by a HighTechSpeaking® workshop participant many years in the past. She mentioned, ‘You possibly can’t play tennis with a bowling ball,’ then went on to clarify, ‘The outdated system was too large and complicated. The brand new one is smaller and quicker.’”
“You possibly can’t play tennis with a bowling ball.”
So, keep in mind that analysis proves you’ll improve the impression of your knowledge and your message by reaching folks by their hearts and minds.
Subsequent, use the facility of images to assist folks perceive and keep in mind key factors . . .
5. Be Inventive With Visible Aids
Whether or not you’re presenting in particular person or nearly, there are a number of methods you’ll be able to maintain folks’s curiosity and drive house your message by getting inventive with visuals.
Add Imagery to Clarify Information
You already know to not clobber your viewers with countless data-dense slides, proper? Good. The extra you’ll be able to convey knowledge/key messages through imagery, the extra partaking and memorable your content material shall be.
Listed here are a number of extra examples of mixing easy, highly effective photographs with (few) phrases to ship a message . . .