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Myths About Technical Talks

In Business Presentations, Communication, Public Speaking on May 18, 2017 at 12:54 PM

too much data

Myths About Technical Talks

Speaking Tip 100

Talks about technical subjects, especially when delivered to technical audiences, tend to be, well, technical.  Speakers go into great depth on the details of the subject while often missing the one thing the audience is really interested in: what it all means.

Many years ago I was working with a scientist who banded birds and tracked their flights across the Pacific from California to Japan. In his presentation, he discussed the 46 types of transmitters he decided not to use. When I asked him why he did this, he replied – “my audience wants to know about the tools I used”. I explained the audience was more interested in what he learned by tracking the birds, a detail he overlooked.

In 1992, Hewlett-Packard labs in Palo Alto, California conducted a survey to determine what technical workers want to hear from other presenters.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom that says the technical audience is eager for a “data dump”, the survey results reflect people’s preference for talks that are well organized and easy to follow. Technical speakers who try to show how much they know by making their presentation complex would be more successful if instead they focused on simplifying their message. It’s a classic example of ‘less is more’”. *

Rather than wanting more technical detail, techies wanted:

  • More concise information
  • More effective style
  • Better visual aids

When dealing with technical information, rather than give the details, tell your audience what it all means. Avoid explaining the ins and outs, the details, and technical specifications – just tell your audience what it means to them. If your audience wants to know the details, they will ask.

Good presentations focus on what their audience wants to know rather than what the speaker thinks they should say.

* Frederick, Gilbert, “The Technical Presentation”, Technical Communication May 1 1992

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The Rights of A Speaker

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2017 at 12:50 PM

As a speaker, you need to ensure you are positioned to properly provide the top-rate service your audience expects. Do not be afraid to politely turn down a request to speak if the reasons justify it.

A speaker is entitled to:

  • Adequate lead-time to prepare for your talk
  • Clearly defined expectations – What is it they want from your talk and why were you asked to speak?
  • The parameters of your talk – e.g. time allotted, size of audience
  • A clear description of audience member’s backgrounds and needs related to the topic
  • A list of other speakers preceding and following your talk
  • Access to proper equipment: stage or podium, lectern, microphone, properly functioning audio-visual equipment
  • Ability to set up the room in advance so that it works for you
  • The full amount of time they have allotted you
  • A host who sets clear ground rules so the audience treats the speaker with respect
  • A place to speak that is quiet with out distractions

 

To deliver your best you need the right tools, time and information. These will increase your self the confidence and credibility allowing you to offer excellent presentation the audience deserves.

 

 

 

© 2008 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.  Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

Punography

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2017 at 9:56 AM

Humor (appropriate and well placed) is one of the four tools used by effective presenters.

Sometimes it is just good to laugh. Audiences like to laugh too.

  • I tried to catch some fog. I mist.
  • When chemists die, they barium.
  • Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
  • A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is not a seasoned veteran.
  • I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop anytime.
  • How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.
  • I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
  • The girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.
  • I am reading a book about antigravity. I can’t put it down.
  • I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
  • They told me I had type A blood, but it was a type O.
  • A dyslexic man walks into a bra.
  • PMS jokes aren’t funny. Period.
  • Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.
  • Class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there is no pop quiz.
  • Energizer bunny arrested: Charged with battery.
  • I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
  • How to you make holy water? You boil the hell out of it.
  • What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
  • When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
  • What does a clock do when it’s hungry? It goes back four seconds.
  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  • Broken pencils are pointless.

 

Author unknown…but witty!