How To Nail A Technical Presentation

Whether you’re an engineer, a maker, a hacker or a baker, at some point you’ll want to share your work with other people. Perhaps it’s a meeting at work to discuss process improvements, or a talk at a conference discussing some research you’ve done into hacking a new embedded platform. Or maybe you’ve developed a brand new cooking profile for rye breads that cuts energy usage in half. Whatever it is, there are techniques you can use to help you communicate effectively to a room full of people, and have fun doing it. Unlike some, I actually enjoy getting up in front of a crowd to present my work, so I’ve written this article to share with you some tips that can help you make a technical presentation that everyone will love — including you!

Editor’s Note: We planned the art for this article before the passing of Carrie Fisher. Leia certainly knew how to give a compelling technical presentation. We publish this in memory of a great actress.

The Basics – Preparing Your Presentation

quote-small-mistakesFirst thing’s first — know your stuff. This is especially crucial in business environments. Throw one inaccurate number up on the projector screen, and you’re screwed. Not only will somebody catch it, but it’s guaranteed to be your worst enemy, Terry from Product Development. He’s been a real jerk since Mark divorced him and took the Honda, and today he’s furious that you got that decimal point in the wrong spot. He’s going to tear you down in front of everyone for it. But worse than that, now nobody can trust the numbers you’re presenting. You will find it much harder to convince people to trust in your analysis, and thus, your conclusions. A small mistake can derail a presentation; two or more will kill it dead.
You’ll find yourself using charts and graphs in all shapes and sizes. The key here is clarity. Keep colors and formatting as simple as possible. Most of all, think carefully about how you present data. In a past life in the die casting industry, I sat in on a presentation analyzing differing wear rates on casting tooling components. The graphs were virtually unintelligible, with stacked bars, twenty colors, axes with little to no labeling — it was a total mess. If you need to explain your graph to people, it’s probably not good enough. Rethink how you put it together; does rearranging things or using a different type of graph make it clearer? People will trust your words much more easily if they correlate with what your graphs say on screen.

Clarity goes for all aspects of your presentation. Using photographs of a project? There’s an art to taking a good technical photo. Focused, evenly lit, and with relevant details easily visible. Of course, it’s not always that easy. When you’re taking photos of damaged hydraulic hoses in a dim, fluid-soaked machine pit, you’re going to struggle. The great thing is, it’s now 2016 and smartphones offer very usable cameras in a compact package, with flashes and autofocus. In my career I’ve found mine to be invaluable to snap pictures of problem hardware. And combined with a tripod, I’ve been able to take great photos and video to share my projects on and YouTube. Make the effort now, and your presentation will go a lot more smoothly.

Walking Into A Combat Situation

ScrappyOkay, so you’ve prepared a great presentation. You’ve got only as many slides as you need, with a great graph that makes your conclusions from the data obvious at a glance. Your photos of your project show all the relevant detail and look tidy and professional. Now comes the hard part: getting up in front of a crowd and delivering it.

Public speaking does not come naturally to many people. If you’ve got a bit of an ego and love attention, you’ve got a head start. For others, the idea of having to stand up in front of a group and discuss (and defend!) their work is terrifying. As always, practice makes perfect, and there are tools available to help.

Mindset is everything. If you’re scared, you’ll act scared. If you’re confident, you’ll act confident. The trick is, if you can fake confidence for just long enough that people respond positively, you’ll start a feedback loop that puts you in a great space. But how do you fake it? Everyone has their own techniques, but one of my favorites is the beach ball.

As you walk up to begin your presentation, and as you begin talking, act as though you’re holding a big imaginary beach ball in front of you. Seriously. Walk as though you’ve just got your awesome beach ball out of the car and you’re striding powerfully towards the beach, ready to throw it right at the back of your best friend’s head, before laughing raucously. Let yourself feel just a little bit excited, and introduce your presentation.

Hi, I’m Lewin Day, and I’m here to tell you how we can save $100,000 a year by optimizing our robot machining paths.

Your first words should be spoken loudly and clearly, to draw attention over the hubbub of a distracted room. Don’t shout, but speak in a voice that makes everyone turn to look at you. Your first line should make people instantly understand what your presentation is about. Once you’ve got people listening, you can then modulate your voice as necessary. Speak with an even speed, and enunciate your words. You are aiming to make your ideas as easy to understand as possible, and that now flows from your presentation, to the way you speak.

dwight-shrute-master-oratorKeeping people engaged is important. Maintain a high energy level to stop people’s attention wandering. If it’s a dry topic in a business environment, stick to the key points, and make it as brief as possible. Tell people what they need to know, and keep it short, sharp, and snappy. If it’s a personal project you’re presenting at a conference or hackerspace, you might prefer to tell a story. Walk people through your development process from start to finish, and share anecdotes about the amusing things that happened. If you’re working with a small group, a great technique you can use is interaction. Keep people involved by drawing references between your work and them personally. Use people’s names and involve them in examples you may make — it’s an effective way to keep people’s attention focused on your message.

Dealing With Adversity

There will be questions. You might face some excited questions about your research, or barbed inquiries questioning your decisions. Ideally, if you’ve got your basics right, they’re not about why your numbers don’t match last month’s reports. Knowing everything about your project is key here. People will want to know, have you considered X, Y, and Z? Why did you choose to use B over A or C? Why are we doing this differently than we used to?

What you need to do first is to listen. To properly answer a question, you must first understand what the other person is asking. Allow them to finish speaking, and pause to consider your response. Make sure you know what is being asked, and then respond, using your knowledge & backing up your statements with data wherever possible. Consider the two exchanges below:

Why did you use parts from the old supplier? They’re junk! Your results must be all over the place.
-We just used what was in the stores, it seemed to work okay.

This response shows a lack of knowledge about the project, and doesn’t address the real question — it’s not about the parts. The real question is whether the results can be trusted.

Why did you use parts from the old supplier? They’re junk! Your results must be all over the place.
-We had a limited time to run our test regime, and only the old supplier’s parts were available. Our calculations showed that for this test, the old parts were well within specifications for this application and would not have a negative effect on results.

This response is much better. It shows a knowledge of the decisions taken during the project and the reasons why. It also addresses the fundamental question (whether or not the results are valid), and backs it up with data.

Bringing it Home

You did the hard work early on, perfected your material, and then delivered an energetic and engaging presentation. Along the way you showed your knowledge, shared some laughs with the crowd, and people learned a thing or two. A presentation well done gives you a great feeling, and once you’ve got one under your belt, confidence will come much more easily ahead of the next one.

Over time you’ll find your own tricks and techniques that work for you, and you’ll notice people will understand your message much more easily as you communicate more effectively. Jump at every chance you get to present your work, and in between, study great presenters who you respect. If you need some inspiration, check out the talks given at the Hackaday SuperConference and pull in the tricks and techniques you see to develop your own speaking style.

49 thoughts on “How To Nail A Technical Presentation

  1. I haven’t worked with them (although I’m thinking about it), but I know several folks who wanted to level up their presentation and public speaking skillz and went to Toastmasters and got really good results.

    1. Yeah, on that point…

      I went to toastmasters for 4 years and supplemented this with outside curriculum by studying presentation methods of various people who have written about it.

      Anyone who doesn’t mention toastmasters or other well-known resources for making a good presentation is just ‘winging it. They look at what other people do, make some reasonable assumptions, and write about it. It’s like telling people “this is how you design a great electronic circuit”, or “how to make a great software package” without having done a lot of either.

      Toastmasters is international, so it’s available to just about everyone. Their curriculum is available online and comes from decades of research into public speaking. It gives you two benefits: 1) It gives you an opportunity to practice, and 2) Immediate feedback on how well you do.

      On that 2nd point, note that many people have vocal “disfluencies” that make presentations hard to listen to. It’s not something you would notice without practice and feedback, but once your ear is trained you can hear them (or lack of them) in speakers everywhere. Certain people speak very well and are easy to listen to, while others speaking the same presentation put the audience to sleep.

      On the 1st point, public speaking is a skill that you get used to and that you can fall out of practice with. It’s sort of like being in shape and out of shape. Having to give a speech once a month (with toastmasters, or any other situation) is key to keeping “in shape” with speaking. Immediate feedback will help you improve your skillz faster than any other known method.

      If you want to give a good speech, the most important aspects would be 1) set up some situation where you have to practice speaking, with 2) immediate feedback, from 3) people who know what to look for and how to criticize.

      All the things mentioned in the article, while true, aren’t really the first things to worry about in public speaking. Dealing with adversity, for example, is a footnote in the toastmasters curriculum, while disfluencies, vocal variety, and physical action are specific feedback ratings in every speech.

      1. Interesting points. Definitely sounds like you’ve gotten a lot of value out of your experience and I agree that practice makes perfect!

        As far as what’s key to public speaking, those are all important. However this article is specifically about technical presentations – where the ability to defend your position is key. Engineering work is very different from public speaking in general, particularly in an industrial/business context.

        1. Absolutely.
          When I was doing my high school, final project on my future carrier of choice. An Electronics Engineer,
          I had complaints about “rambling”. People don’t seem to understand when it comes to a technical thesis
          or presentation there are specific details involved dependent on your work.

      2. I’d agree, having been in Toastmasters for long enough that I became part of the furniture I find myself critical of any public speaker who doesn’t use their services to help them along. The cost is so affordable, and the knowledge and experience you gain is invaluable. The chance to practice, and practice giving speeches you want to give…

        That, plus being an well established, international organisation, when you achieve for example your Competent Communicator certificate that is something that workplaces will recognise; you can peg yourself as the best person to give presentations etc.

        Not only that, but they also teach leadership skills, running business meetings efficiently, and provide a place to practice as well.

      3. In response to some people having a naturally monotonous, uninteresting presentation tone.
        I believe there is a aspect of maturity involved. I.e those traits can be overlooked.
        But I believe It depends on *where, when and why” the presentation is being done. If it’s say, a GNU seminar, Hosted
        by Richard Stallman, people will appreciate it despite the fact his tone of voice is slightly bland,
        but that’s also relative to ones opinion.

  2. Great tips. Peer reviews and practice are both essential to preparing for a presentation. A good peer review can help you anticipate questions and then you can decide whether or not to include them as either discussion points or just have prepared responses in your speaker notes. Anticipating questions or objections demonstrates your ability to view your content from multiple perspectives which shows your willingness to collaborate on finding the best solution for a problem. Practice gives you a comfort and familiarity with the material that you simply cannot fake.

      1. Sounds like Mike be subject to a lashing by Ann Lander’s wet noodle :). I long ago come to conclude people choose to be annoyed by animated gives. All I would say their inclusion when used at a meeting or presentation probably has a neutral effect, if on topic. where the presenter is likely to show it briefly and move on. Why a person using a power point that they control would ” scroll them off the screen and avoid reading several paragraphs” is beyond me. I understand scrolling by an animated GIF if they disturb you I can understand, but to purposely decide not to read several paragraphs? Damn I’m glad I learned not to sweat the small, and discover most it is the small shit.

  3. Some good points. Engineers tend to have a hard time communicating with non-technical people. I personally don’t like giving presentations, but when I do the above tips are essential. Have accurate data. Keep it simple. Have someone proof-read your presentation if possible. Stick to the facts. Make it clear what information is missing (identify unknowns) if that will be an issue.

    Also know your audience. Be careful of company politics & landmines (I worked at one company where using Intel products were forbidden. Seriously!). If you correct someone, be gentle. Leaving metaphorical blood-splatter on the wall might be satisfying in the moment, but you could create a career-long enemy. Especially since many if not most presentations are given to manager-level employees.

    I also like the point of making sure you have looked at all possible solutions. You can often nip many questions in the bud by presenting all solutions, showing their pros and cons, and explaining why the solution you selected was the best.

  4. Dont use any freaking clipart. NONE OF IT! it’s how you scream “amateur hour” to your audience. and lastly if your entire presentation can be boiled down to a single email, then just email everyone and save us from having to try and stay awake.

  5. I have spent a lot of my career either giving presentations to customers, management, or lecturing to a classroom. I tell my people there is one supreme rule about speaking in front of people: have fun. That may seem silly, but I can tell you that if you are not enjoying yourself, why should anyone else be? Relax and have fun. If you are super comfortable, you will be surprised at how many other problems people will forgive you. Not saying all the other points aren’t valid, but no amount of prep, or graphics, or anything else will make up for a presenter who’s body language is screaming “I’M AFRAID! I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE!” For example, I cringe every time I see someone speaking “fig leafing” (look it up).

    Decker Communications used to have a class (they may still) titled “You have to be heard to be believed” (or something like that). The core lesson there is if you don’t engage people, it doesn’t matter how right you are. If you are talking and I’m checking my phone, thinking about the weekend, worrying about what I’m going to say, etc. then you might as well spout off anything. I’m not listening to you. Part of that engagement, in my opinion, is to have fun. And let that fun be contagious to the audience.

    When Steve Harvey comes out on Family Feud, he says, “Hey!” and he’s excited. Then he says, “We got a good one for you today!” You know and I know that some of them probably aren’t as good as some of the other ones. But that’s not his point. He’s spreading that fun. He might have had a fender this morning, his ex wife (one of them) is on his case, and he thinks one of the families is stupid. He isn’t going to come out, look at his shoes, and mumble, “Yeah. The show’s ok today. Let’s go ahead and get it over with.”

    There’s a fine line. I often do jokes and that works for me. But if it is forced or if it is the obligatory opening joke that can backfire. Just like if Harvey came out and said, “Hey! You are going to have fun today! Fun. Because this a fun show. And I’m a fun host.” You would just roll your eyes and change the channel. It has to be organic and effortless. What works for me or Steve Harvey might not work for you. I’ve seen presenters that do a little magic during a talk to engage people. Talking TO people instead of AT them often is good if you are the kind of person that can pull that off naturally. But it all comes down to YOU should have fun. The audience will follow you if you do.

  6. So, not to be pedantic, but what’s up with the ordering in the “beach ball sales” graph? The x-axis is not ordered, making the relationship between beach ball sales and temperature unclear. Before I looked at the tick labels, I thought you were highlighting a strange behavior where the sales dip over a certain temperature range.

    1. Actually I’ve been to that presentation:
      A treasurer was giving a report and put up a similar bar graph, but neither axis had labels. And he couldn’t recall if the horizontal one was months or weeks.
      He also gave the “first quarter” results, which actually covered for months, then later admitted the fourth month included half of May.

    1. I find that technical people like to speak precisely, if that means they use a ‘ten dollar’ word rather than a ‘simpler’ one that would do it probably means there is a nuance to that word which helps them to convey their meaning. That said I am reminded of a time one of my American colleagues was visiting, he used the word ‘summarization’ where he meant ‘summary’. I wondered whether that was because it was longer, or sounds more complicated, or whether he simply couldn’t think of the shorter word.

      1. William F Buckley is on conservative program host I didn’t mind watching, because he was fair and balance IMO. Many self describe conservatives I know didn’t like his programs he used words they where unfamiliar with. More often than not is wasn’t that difficult to figure out what the word meat. When I got around to looking up a word generally it turn out that one word convey what it would take a sentence to say when using ” one cent speak”. Where most presentations are meant to be education I suggest using the ten dollar word, with a brief meaning of it. Most people there wanting to learn aren’t going to mind, and those who know what the word means probably understand there may be those that don’t. As always there are going to be exceptions, that’s why life requires developing a thick hide.

  7. One other comment about dealing with tough questions. I agree with your points. One other thing to consider though is that often people want to be acknowledged. So if I answered your question about old parts:

    That’s not important because….

    You’ve marginalized the question asker. Sometimes you have to, but that’s dangerous and should not be your first move out of the gate.

    However, you might say:

    That’s a really good question and we thought about that too. Turns out….


    I can see you’ve had a lot of experience with things like this. We considered it and….

    It is really hard to beat up someone who is acknowledging you. Again, has to be not too blatant and never sarcastic.

    Same thing goes in customer service and you can hear it in well-trained CSRs you deal with. Where they will say, “I understand how you must feel…” You never want to make people feel like they’ve asked a dumb question or they should not feel like they do. That activates a different kind of defense mechanism that transcends rational discourse.

    Now, on the other hand, I’ve always wanted to answer a question like this:

    You know, they say there are no stupid questions. But apparently, they were wrong.

    Hahahaha….. I so want to do that one day just before I retire ;-)

  8. As for stage fright — get over it. Find a way to get over it. For your sake and everyone elses.

    I have a book on stage fright. An amazing number of entertainers battled and do battle it. One person, I think Carol Burnett, but I am probably wrong (the book is a series of interviews with famous people about their stage fright issues).
    Anyway,s this person says they remind themselves that the audience came there to have fun, is not out to get them, wants them to do well, etc. etc.

    Most of our audiences want the same. They want to enjoy the talk, want us to do well. There are always the pathological jerks that want to shoot holes and use any tiny flaw to toot their horn and in their own minds at least elevate themselves. It is good to be ready for these – and to be ready to answer honest questions. A good talk can be an opportunity to learn some things and get new perspectives from questions as well, especially when given to a group of non-hostile peers.

    A good guideline is the old golden rule. Give a talk that you would want to listen to. The idea of striving to have fun is a good one. I am glad to go to a talk when I can get new ideas and learn interesting things. I have been bored silly in too many meetings and an interesting and fun talk is a wonderful gift.

    Big words. I know people who use them as power tools for manipulation. They fail to communicate although they sometimes impress naive managers. I aim to communicate and am cautious about using big words. I am thinking of a story about a famous old time preacher who test flew sermons by preaching to his maid and asked her to stop him if he used any word she did not understand. Of course technical talks by necessity use lots of jargon, but here the thing is to know your audience. Too much strange lingo and people just switch off.

  9. I’d add a couple of things:

    – Don’t just read the slides when presenting. The audience can read the slides. Explain them, read the notes that couldn’t fit in the slides, tell amusing anecdotes about them, anything, but please don’t just read the slides. It’s such a waste of time to come to meetings or presentations where the presenter just reads the slides. If that’s all it is, send it in an email.

    – Don’t lie. If someone from the audience suggests something that you haven’t thought of, say so. If someone points out an incorrect fact and has the backing info to prove it, take it. If someone asks a related question you don’t know the answer to, admit it. Don’t dance around and try to wriggle your way out, especially in technical presentations, because it’s usually exceedingly obvious that you’re doing just that.


    1. Amen. Anyone who just reads the slides should just be grabbed and taken out and beaten immediately or something more or less equivalent. And don’t read notes either. If I have notes, they are just mind jogging bullet points to remind me of a topic and then I am off and running. If I have slides they are either exactly that (reminders of key points and I dispense with my notes) and/or some simple tables or graphs. Don’t provide detailed tables or graphs with captions nobody can read. No lengthy text either. Is it a talk or a slide show? A talk hopefully; reinforced by the slides.

      An old saw goes:

      Tell em what you are gonna tell em.
      Tell em.
      Tell em what you told em.

    2. On reading what appears on the screen. Reading them is normal speaking manner could help the audience have the time to study them before you move on. At over 6′ tall I’m generally one of those furthest from the screen, often it’s difficult to see it clearly, particularly if the focus isn’t spot on. Respectful advice to not read the slides reads like personal peeve is being used to create a general rule.

      There must be some rule stating that some member of of the audience ask the speaker a question that the speaker can’t answer readily, whenever that happens to me, I do what is suggested here. As an audience member I avoid asking a questions if doing so could end up in a back and forth exchange, if my question questions something the speaker said I opt to try to talk with the speaker after the presentation, if that’s isn’t possible I move on. As an example I was at a meeting where the speaker was discussing how radio antennas function. At some point he suggestion that the ground completes a circuit between two stations. I was able to speaking with him later, and like many he believed that so. Not only was he a amateur radio operator he was Land Mobile Radio technician. So I’m glad I didn’t ask the question at the presentation when he entertained questions. I don’t like creating even a mild confrontation, because it difficult to get people to put themselves out there to give a program.

    3. People who just read slides is my least favourite presenting style.

      My opinion is slides should be titles to introduce sections, followed by bullet points that will be expanded upon. Stuff that you’d write as notes if you were listening to the presentation.

      >quality control

      >longer lead time

      You’d then elaborate those points.

      I’ve seen Presentations before where the slides are literally paragraphs, no explanations needed as all the information is right up there… It’s a terrible way to present, just the same as when I was at university, some lecturers literally read from a book that we all had.

      I had the opposite side of the don’t lie experience, I was presenting.
      And after months of arguing something wouldn’t work with loads of reasons (all reasonably explained how they weren’t problems, or that doesn’t work how he thought) he decided to lie and make up a reason.

      Of course after the presentation his lies were outed. (And made known, didn’t work out great for him.

  10. I’m here to tell you how we can save $100,000 a year by optimizing our robot machining paths.

    Thank you for your contribution. Just the kind of guy we want for training your replacement…

  11. As a group of spotty 18 year olds we were herded into a lecture on ‘communications’ by a lecturer who we hadn’t seen before. We sat very quietly and politely as he rambled on for a couple of minutes, standing behind his desk and he mentioned a government report we’ be looking at. The will to live was low. As he spoke he pulled the report out of his briefcase and held it aloft. Only what he was holding up was a copy of Playboy (or similar) after an awkward moments disbelief we all burst out laughing. We paid very close attention to that lecture. A brilliant strategy to engage know it all teenagers which has lived far longer in the memory than the years around it.

    I’d add to the golden rules;

    If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Tell them you’ll find out and ask them to leave you their contact details.

  12. Corporate meetings 101:

    #1 know your audience
    #2 gain trust in at least one member of every participating department. Ideally, high level managers.
    #3 invite every member to the meeting, don’t force them. Mandatory meetings are doomed to failure. Entice them with intel that excites them.
    #4 Your invitation must have a concise and easy to read list of bullet points for the entire presentation. You will follow this list yourself.
    #5 design a presentation that starts at the bare metal and works the audience up to the actual point. In other words educate them in a very high speed manner that doesn’t lose anyone along the way. This is the art right here folks.
    #6 Be really nice in response to even the dumbest questions. Invite EVERYONE to the party.

    When high level directives for change are handed down from above, the people involved may respond to change with fear (in fact, most will). By presenting YOURSELF…not the information…as the point of the meeting, you will be perceived as the savior if you do it right. This will set you up for accelerated advancement if that is your game. For me, good meetings remove project blockers and point out potential candidates for enlistment into my project army. Choose your goal wisely so you can win and hold your new found ground.

  13. Rehearsal can be rewarding. Also, plan the presentation as if you are teaching high school. Here are some tips:

    Never read what is on a projection or handout. You can elaborate, but if you plan to state them, use a white board or app to write them as you go. PowerPoints and other projections distract your audience by letting them read ahead.

    Never hand out papers or other items (people still occasionally hand out paper don’t they?) before you plan to use them. This is where paper airplanes come from and a total loss of focus by your listeners. There are experienced school teachers who get this wrong. You may remember some.

    No table of contents. Someone who bullet points what they intend to present is wasting time.

    Practice speaking without using any of those idiotic “What you wanna do now is you wanna” phrases.

    Don’t start answers with “Yeah. I mean ..”

    Do show and tell at the same time. If you have a prop or product, hold it or show it as you start. Don’t wave it around like a Sparkfun product video. Hold it or show it in a way that people can see it. Practice this so you don’t look like the model who is holding the soup can with the label covered. Action speaks louder than words. Telling everyone that “Now I’ll hold this so you can see the front then the back, then I’ll review the switch settings.” is filler. Just do it.

    Watch YouTube videos to see what not to do. Just note the things that you think could be better or save time, especially how many have useless introductions and preambles. You see plenty of people who claim they will review sometime like a new tool, then talk about it while you look at a static picture of the tool on a table. Most of the time it is MUCH better to show the tool being used from the very beginning to catch interest. Watch the infomercial pitches for knives or pans to see how the presentation is organized. You can adopt techniques even though you are not doing a sales presentation.

    QED (Quit, Enough Done!)

    1. Note that meetings are different from presentations. Meetings are held to make everyone feel like they are involved. Presentations are to show something new or results of some sort.

    2. One more that works really well. Use the words abreviated by an acronym. Not everyone will be up to speed. Like SATA. You can say “sahta” or “sayta”, but it sounds just plain smarter to say “Serial A T A”. Really, they should be enunciated as letters anyway. AAA is not said “aaaa”. Sure, NASA controllers say “Press to meekoh” for MECO – Main Engine Cut Off”, but they only save 2 syllables. And there are so many acronyms in the tech fields, adding a little information will never hurt.

    3. Well yea I had out papers, but they aren’t printout of any entire projection that might be used. Generally a list a information like names, URLS and so on so the presentation can move along without waiting for everyone to write them down. Often many don’t bring the means to take note. When I use a Power Point of my creation or one that I was able to borrow I make them available on the web.

  14. I’ve made a lot of presentations that at least some thought were a success, as well as had plenty stage time as a musician.
    Damian Conway, though he runs a little long here, gets it right. Even how to handle questions designed to mess you up, and look like the hero anyway. Key takeaway – don’t bother if you’re not passionate about it. You can’t really lie to an audience, if you don’t want to be there, they sense it. If you love it yourself, they are carried along with you. No one’s going to believe if you don’t.

  15. Some excellent advice offered above, also look up CRUTCH words, things like “basically, actually, um, er, y’know, so, and many, many more. Video sites are a gold mine of how not to do it.

    Practice the presentation in front of a camera and count how many times you use any of them. Keep practicing until you don’t use any.

    Remove them from your presentation and everyday vocabulary sound smarter straight away.

    With written reports and to some extent presentations, when first wanting to use an acronym, the format is “Senior Management Team, (SMT)” thereafter, SMT can be used. (Yes I know the difference between initialisation and acronyms, but there’s bigger problems to worry about than that.)

  16. I’m more introverted, than I’m extroverted. I hated doing assigned presentations in High School speech class. After a few years behind I found myself comfortable giving presentations on subject matter I know well. The amateur radio club I belong to the Vice President had the task of coming up with club meeting program material. At my last stint at in the VP position I had to work hard at convincing a well known ( beyond the USA) amateur radio VHF/UHF contester to give talk about his contesting activity. He is a soft spoken man and doubted if anyone would be interested. I finally prevailed, and he turn out to be a natural at it. The word got out and he became in demand by other clubs.

  17. One thing I’ve always found helpful is to speak to the back wall. Of course you have the normal things as far as make eye contact with as many people as you can without looking like you need a Xanax, etc., but I end up having a hard time with volume and projection of my voice. You want people to hear you without yelling. If you talk to the back wall, you automatically raise your voice unconsciously. By talking towards someone in the middle of the room, and then back at the wall, you also don’t sound monotone.

  18. One more that works really well. Use the words abreviated by an acronym. Not everyone will be up to speed. Like SATA. You can say “sahta” or “sayta”, but it sounds just plain smarter to say “Serial A T A”. Really, they should be enunciated as letters anyway. AAA is not said “aaaa”. Sure, NASA controllers say “Press to meekoh” for MECO – Main Engine Cut Off”, but they only save 2 syllables. And there are so many acronyms in the tech fields, adding a little information will never hurt.

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