Wednesday, 2 March 2016


Differences Count When You Are Presenting

Hammer the message to the audienceYou’ve got a big presentation coming up and you know that you want to make a difference and have the audience walk away with a good understanding of the complex info that you are going to present. What can you do to really make sure that you key points get hammered home? You want to get your understanding itched into the audience. You want to surprise them with your presentation.

What can you do? Setting the stage on fire can be great but impractical way to accomplish this. How about two simpler ways that us technical folks always seem to forget as we pull together our presentations?

Audience Attention is drawn to perceptible differences

Let’s say that you’ve got a slide that contains one of the key points that you want to make to your audience. There are probably other things on that slide (like a title?). You need to make sure that your key point, be it a number, a comparison, a figure, etc. jumps out at your audience. All other points are subdued, playing a background role. However make sure that all are the background figures / comparisons are in direct relations with the key point that you are conveying, or else they will be a distraction and scare away the audience. Any distracting points / items should be brutally chopped out from the slide.

Keep in mind that PowerPoint’s ability to have items join the slide via animation might be a good way to lead up to and introduce the key point.

human group elements into units automatically

The human mind is an amazing thing. We can quickly suck in large quantities of information and rapidly make decisions about it. This talent works for or against you in a technical presentation depending how you are running the presentation. Things that you place close to each other on a slide will automatically be considered to be related by your audience.

Lets consider that you are presenting about the price increase in society. In order to drive home the understanding you add in a graph that shows that both the price of copper ore and the price of apples have both increased by 25% in the past 6 months. Both items would be shown closely together on the same graph and the audience would associate them. However, they really have nothing to do with each other (unless you are trying to talk about the cost of copper apples…).  They will confuse the audience.

But if there was two graphs one of copper and iron ore showing increase of price and then another graph of apples and bananas of same increasing trend. The human mind will start comprehending that there is a price increase across everything from metals to fruits even before you have started speaking.. You will be starting your presentation with an upper hand.

Just a few things to consider when you are making that last pass though the big presentation that you’ve created — do your main points jump out or are they buried?

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