Your technical meetings can be exciting and eye-opening if you prepare your content correctly. Download our step-by-step Get FIT (Financial, Informative, Technical) content development worksheet (PDF) to learn how to get out of the weeds and get to the point.
Four Steps to Develop Technical Content
Your technical meetings might miss the mark because you prepare too much information and rush through the data, making you appear nervous and disorganized despite your preparedness. Implementing the following tips will help you meet your timeframe and provide the information others need to make decisions.
1. Audience perspective. The first thing you’ll need to do is consider your attendees. Who will attend your meeting? What information do they need to know when they leave your meeting? This is important because it will help you edit your content to meet THEIR needs and prevent you from including everything you want to tell them.
2. What are your silos? Determine the most important information categories for your audience. I sometimes refer to these categories as “silos of information.” These categories should be presented in the order of most importance for your attendees. Once you determine these silos, they will be your agenda topics. Most presentations will have 2-5 agenda topics. If some of the information you have does not fit within these silos, edit it out. If the information is significant, you can adjust your silos. Remember, this is all driven by what your audience needs to know and should not include every piece of information you have to share with them.
3. When in doubt, edit it out. It will take longer than you think to communicate your information in most cases. You also need to build in time for questions and answers. If you’re given 30 minutes to present, you shouldn’t develop 30 minutes worth of content to accommodate these variables. Instead, follow these guidelines:
- For a 30-minute presentation, prepare 20 minutes of content.
- For a 45-minute presentation, prepare 35 minutes of content.
- For a 60-minute presentation, prepare 45 minutes of content. If for some reason, your presentation takes longer than expected, you don’t have to panic. You know that you have a buffer built-in. To determine if you have the right amount of content list on a piece of paper, how much time it will take you to deliver each slide. Example: Slide one – four minutes; slide two-three minutes, etc. Practice the content aloud and time yourself to determine the most accurate calculation. Once you have determined the timing for each slide, add the times together. This will help you decide whether you need to eliminate or edit content.
4. So what? During your explanation, tell the audience whether the information you are presenting is good or bad. For example, if you’re an engineer, you could spend 10 minutes talking about a retrofit while assuming that everyone in the audience knows whether it’s good or bad. Don’t be afraid to spell it out. State the obvious. Tell your audience why this information is of value to them. Tell them why they should care, or explain what problem or challenge it solves for them.
- Download the full Get FIT (Financial, Informative, Technical) Format Worksheet (PDF)
- Conduct effective technical meetings with our technical communication skills training program
- Hone your skills with our scientific communication skills training program