When giving a technical presentation, deliver a clear and meaningful message to avoid polarising the audience. With your message underpinning your content, engage your audience, provide them with something novel and beneficial to take away, and evoke emotion.

Tech talk audience bw

Message #

It comes down to this:

If you don’t have something important to say, don’t say it.

At the very least, cut it out of your presentation – don’t waste people’s time by making them sit through second-rate content.

Assuming you do have something of tangible value to say, dig deep to get to the core of your message. Peel away the unnecessary cruft until you are left with a statement in which every word matters and that you genuinely believe is of importance.

Here’s one I came up with for a tech talk I’ll present at this year’s Dot All conference:

Complex problems require simple solutions.

Everything you communicate should support (or question) the idea underpinning your message.

Structure #

Open strongly, creating suspense by describing the big idea” you will reveal during your presentation. 

State your case with critical points backed by stories. 

Build up to a moment of climactic emotion that they will remember. 

Reiterate your message and close strongly.

Suspense and emotion are meant here in contrast to predictability and monotony. The last thing anyone wants is a speaker that tells you how they’re going to bore you, proceeds to bore you, then tells you how they bored you.

Slides #

Your slides support what you have to say, not vice versa! Be sparing with them. 

Build your presentation around your core message (not your slides) and ensure that each slide is as crucial to your presentation as each word is to your core message.

Research #

Be the expert” when speaking to a group of people. Know your subject matter inside-out so you can talk about it for hours ad-lib. 

Collect real-world experiences and compelling stories.

Practice #

Practice makes proficient, so do it often in the months leading up to your presentation. Present in front of people, then ask them to be brutally honest about how you could improve. Listen to what they say, especially the parts that are hard for you to take.

Final Prep #

Arrive early enough to ensure that you are well rested, well nourished, well dressed and mentally sharp on the day. 

Put mindfulness into practice to help deal with nerves and anxiety.