Five Mistakes To Avoid During a Technical Presentation

Don’t forget that PowerPoint, although it is meant to simplify your life, can often make it more complicated. With PowerPoint, you hope that your computer will not crash, that the projector will work, that there won’t be a power failure, that you won’t need to skip around in your slides, that everyone can see the screen, and so on. Without PowerPoint, there’s only one variable―You. And you have 100% control over that variable.

Being too abstract – Do we need a lexicon to understand your speech? Is your topic so abstract that the audience only hears words instead of seeing images? Most human beings retain information as images, sounds, or feelings. Rarely will they remember information as words or abstract concepts. In order for your audience to understand and remember what you say, you have to paint a picture in their minds. They need to be able to hear you and see a picture that accompanies your words. One of the best ways to do so is to give examples.

In an academic situation, theoretical concepts don’t necessarily need an immediate practical application. But outside of academia, it’s important to translate what you say into a sensory experience for your audience. When your topic is very abstract, take the time to illustrate it with concrete and specific examples. The examples will help cement the information and help with understanding.

No call to action – After your speech, what should your audience do? How can they apply your words to their lives? Many technical presentations end by default, rather than by design. The speaker presents information, answers a few questions, then leaves, expecting the audience to know exactly what to do afterwards. How often have you heard a speech with copious amounts of excellent information, but then had no idea where to begin using it or how to put it into practice? Don’t hesitate to tell the audience when and how to apply what you tell them.

A technical speech will lose its effectiveness and its usefulness if it is not properly presented. The five points above are some of the elements that can distract your audience and keep them from understanding the information that you present. These are points that can and should be taken into account during your preparation; prior to standing before your audience. By taking the necessary time for proper preparation, the speech will be better structured, more convincing, and more useful to your audience.

Laurent Duperval is the president of Duperval Consulting which helps individuals and companies improve people-focused communication processes. He may be reached at [email protected] or 514-902-0186.