If you develop and deliver technical presentations of any kind, you know how challenging the process can be. You have to include complex information and data; but you also know that you have a limited timeframe. Choosing what information to include or exclude is easier said than done.


We believe technical presentations can be exciting and eye-opening if you prepare your content correctly. The reason your technical meetings might miss the mark is because you realize that you have too much information while you are presenting. This may cause you to rush through the information, which despite your preparedness, makes you appear nervous, and disorganized.


Implementing the following tips when developing and delivering presentations will make it easy for people to leave your meeting saying, “Wow. That was interesting. Now I have the information I need to make decisions.” Therefore, be sure you do the following:


Four Steps to Develop Technical Presentations


  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 categories of information that are most important to 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. In most cases, it will take longer than you think to communicate your information. You also need to build in time for questions and answers. In order to accommodate these variables, if you’re given 30 minutes to present, you shouldn’t develop 30 minutes worth of content. 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.In order 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 out loud 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 determine if you need to eliminate or edit content.

4. So what? At some point 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.


What’s Next?


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