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Technical Presentation Tips

Here are some FREE tips to improve your next technical presentation.

20 Tips to Help Dry, Technical Presentations Come Alive!

Facts don’t speak for themselves. Make them come alive and show how they support your points.

  • First, be clear on the business outcome desired from the presentation.
  • Provide listeners a roadmap so they know where you are going with the data.
  • Research and know the material. Practice and rehearse talking with, not at listeners.
  • Grab the listener’s attention by asking a question.
  • Streamline the information into bite-size, easy to digest pieces.
  • Limit details.
  • Explain technical facts in a non-technical way.
  • Communicate the benefits (what’s in it for them?)
  • Define technical terminology.
  • Add a “touch of humor” for relief from the stream of data.
  • Enlist listener participation and interaction. Encourage questions.
  • Use colorful graphics.
  • Use examples to convey difficult concepts.
  • Use visuals and props to help retention.
  • Use amazing or shocking statistics.
  • Use profound or bold statements.
  • Use comparisons and analogies.
  • Use a story to reinforce retention of the material.
  • Use repetition to drive home an important point.

3  Common Pitfalls to Avoid with Your Technical Presentations

  • Information overload: An overload of technical information wears the audience out.
  • Not connecting it:  Presenting a lot of detail without strong “links” to your main point confuses listeners.
  • Hesitancy or uncertainty:   Listeners will become skeptical if you look unsure or unclear, or not prepared or organized.

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Preventing Costly Hiring Mistakes

by Joe Tabers, CSP

Recently we were asked by two different organizations for our help in determining whether or not a couple of potential executive candidates were good “fit” for their management team.

In both cases, vice president positions were available and they had narrowed the field down to a couple of good possibilities. Both organizations had worked with us in the past; one organization had us conduct executive team building and effective meetings workshops, the other organization had us conduct an (effective coaching skills) workshop for their management team.

Can Assessments Help?

They had remembered our use of effective assessment tools during their training sessions and how valuable they were to their management team members. Now they were wondering if something similar might work in selecting a candidate who’s style would mesh well with the rest of their management team?

In order to reduce risk of potential discrimination claims we agreed to help after confirming that the client would agree to administer the same self-assessment tool for each candidate applying for the open leadership position. We also had two to four other managers (that knew the requirements of the vacant position well) assess the job as if it could talk – what would other ideal candidates look like.

This process was facilitated on-line by providing an access password for their executive candidates to conveniently complete the self-assessment from any location. Results were privately emailed back to their contact person in each organization followed by a one-hour consultation emphasizing the candidates strengths they would bring to the team as well as pointing out potential areas of concern or clash in management style with their corporate culture or other key managers.

Wow What a Fit!

The results? Both organizations felt this was an extremely valuable service. In one case the assessment report gave them greater confidence moving forward on extending an offer for an important VP position. In the case of the other organization, it helped them to choose a better organizational fit between two equally qualified candidates. And as a result provided greater reassurance that they were making the right choice the first time.

Most organizations can recognize a good skill/talent fit when they see it. The greater challenge however is recognizing if there is a good management/communication style/ fit. One that is in line with their corporate vision, values and mission.

As a business leader you most likely know the costs involved with hiring mistakes at a high-level. A CEO I worked with said to me, “I wish we had done this a year ago, it would have saved us thousands that we paid in a recent severance package of a mismatch we recently let go. Let this be a friendly reminder for you to consider taking a little extra time to assess your executive and management position candidates for some of those behavioral qualities often hidden during the job interview process. You’ll be glad you did!

Joe Tabers, CSP is a seasoned executive/management coach and trainer, and president of Productive Training Services.  Since 1984 Productive Training Services has helped organizations interested in improving trust, teamwork and communications in the workplace. He can be reached toll-free at 800-805-8780 or by email at jtabers@www.productivetraining.com<

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Managing and Leading With Good Communication

by Joe Tabers, CSP

One of the biggest problems we continue to encounter in many of the organizations we visit and often work with is poor internal communication. With more companies doing the same amount of work (or more) with fewer people and less time, communication often gets cut short or doesn’t take place at all.

The problem often begins by not scheduling time or not making time to meet with others who are affected by our work, our work flow, our assignments, etc. The problem then often gets worse when that same information, (or lack of information), affects other departments. How? Assumptions are made, misunderstandings or mistakes occur, and negative perceptions get formed. The “no news is good news” philosophy rarely works and usually backfires

You Can Help!

So what can you do to help improve internal communications in your department or organization? Practice these five rules and watch for the positive results:

Rule #1 Take responsibility! Remind yourself that it’s nearly impossible to over communicate. Freely share as much information as you can and make it a point to clarify in writing, by phone, fax, face-to-face, or in meetings whenever possible.

Rule #2 Let people know your intentions and reasons for doing things. Share your desired results/vision for a task or decision, then ask for their help.

Rule #3 Ask them what they need from you, such as information resources, support, etc. Then listen, restate to confirm their needs as needed, and thank them for their input.

Rule #4 Set regular meeting dates (make the time). In nearly twenty years of consulting, the most effective organizations or departments I’ve witnessed have been those that meet regularly – monthly, weekly, etc. – to plan, update, share, or solve problems as a team.

Rule #5 Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. Yes, as much as we hate to admit we are imperfect human beings. We get busy, we get side-tracked, we get interrupted. Follow-up helps all of us with accountability as well as simply keeping the lines of communication open.

Why Wait For Things to Get Better?

I believe all of us respect, appreciate and even admire good relationships. Good relationships however don’t just happen by luck, they require both communication and effort. If you are in a leadership position in your organization, or even if you are simply a respected employee/coworker, you are in a great position to help prevent communication problems. By practicing these five rules for more effective internal communication, you can help avoid misunderstandings, and turn negative perceptions, irritations and attitudes around one person or department at a time. Good Luck!

Joe Tabers, CSP is a certified speaking professional, senior consultant and one of our most requested communication skill-building specialists. Since 1984 he has been helping organizations interested in improving trust, teamwork and communications in the workplace. If you believe your company or one of your departments within it would benefit from more effective communication; please contact our manager of customized training Kathy Snell @ 1 800 805-8780 for a free, no obligation consultation.

You can also download this article free by clicking here. You will need
Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 to view and print the newsletter.
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to download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.)
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How to Deliver More Effective Interactive Presentations (Part II)

by Joe Tabers, CSP

Editor’s Note: – In Part I of this article, Joe addressed the importance of 1. Planning for success with your audience, and 2. Talking with not at them. In the continuation of this article, Joe addresses two more ways for you to help make your presentation more alive, relevant, and memorable.

Presentation Tip #3: Involve your audience.

Adults learn new information best by seeing, hearing and doing at the same time. As you prepare, ask yourself: How can I make or reinforce this key point or concept? How can I make this point come alive or be better remembered?

One of the most effective means to involve people in their own learning is to ask your audience helpful questions. For example, you might ask, “By show of hands, how many of you contributed the maximum amount to your 401k last year?” or, “What would you say is your greatest challenge when it comes to saving for retirement?”

Relating your content to them with examples of similar life situations of a friend, client or relative is another effective method of involving your audience. People love to hear stories about other people! Tradition and history have been passed down through parables and stories throughout the centuries. Stories engage the imagination by combining visualization, hearing and emotions to markedly increase participant retention.

Another effective way of involving your audience is to ask for volunteers or to demonstrate steps to take when solving a specific problem.

Presentation Tip #4: Challenge your audience.

Along the way, and especially at the end of a section, ask your audience questions likeWhat would you need to do in order to make this work for you? What might happen if you don’t apply this in your life? What is the benefit to you of taking action with this information? What should be your first step in applying this? Etc.

By asking questions, and expectedly waiting to get answers, you easily turn a passive learning experience into an interactive one. In this way, participants begin thinking through or imagining how they will apply the information once the presentation is over. This very process can help retention (since key information will be repeated) and increase motivation to take action.

One final tip: Require your audience to record personalized questions/action steps on a separate sheet of paper during key points of your presentation/program. These points should tie back into the desired outcomes you identified as you prepared for your presentation and that you shared up front as your presentation goals. Again, what do you want your audience to be thinking or doing differently as a result of your presentation?

So the next time you or someone at your company has the privilege of sharing technical or financial knowledge and experience with an audience, practice utilizing these four solid presentation tips. When you use these steps, you help your audience enjoy the education process, retain important information, and increase their motivation to take action.

And what of the applause? When they applaud now it won’t be to just be polite, or because they’re relieved it’s over, but rather to truly thank you for your help and concern with their technical knowledge, decision making options, or their finances and their futures!

Joe Tabers, CSP, is a Certified Speaking Professional and management consultant based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the author of over twelve adult learning methodology workshops, including the highly successful “Effective Interactive Trainer” and “The Effective Interactive Presenter” programs. Joe can be reached at Productive Training Services at (800) 805-8780, or by email at jtabers@www.productivetraining.com.

You can also download this article free by clicking here. You will need
Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 to view and print the newsletter. (Click www.Adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html
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How to Deliver More Effective Interactive Presentations (Part I)

by Joe Tabers, CSP

You, or one of your company’s employees, has just completed the delivery of technical/financial presentation and the audience applauds … But you ask yourself: did they really get it? Are they really going to act on what they’ve heard, or are they politely just saying “thank you?”

All too often, technical/financial presentations and seminars end up being “ho-hum” for those attending. Many presenters/instructors and programs lean heavily on slick graphics and glossy participant materials to lessen the weight of content laden with statistics, principles and historical graphs. I have personally sat through several of these sessions myself, not remembering much afterward, yet alone enabling me to apply the material to my own situation. So in an effort to do battle with the “ho-hum”, what else can you do to make technical material alive, relevant, and memorable?

Two Tips to Success

Over nearly twenty years as a professional speaker and workshop leader I often have had people tell me during a break or after a program, “I thought this was going to be boring, but this is really great”. ” I’m learning a lot!” ” I will definitely use this!” “This is good stuff…very helpful!” Consistent audience responses like these are not just luck. I believe they are the result of four solid steps you can take with your presentations.

Presentation Tip #1. Plan for Success. Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers:

  • Who is my audience? The more you know about and anticipate their needs, the better you can help them.
  • What is (are) the realistic desired outcome(s) given the time frame? It is best to provide specific how-to steps in a few key areas rather than broad overviews in a lot of areas. This is especially true when you are limited on time.
  • What do I want the audience to be thinking or doing differently during and after my presentation?Avoid having a perceived hidden agenda by letting them know your presentation goal(s) up front, and then ask for their help in accomplishing those goals.
  • What tools can I use to help them get there? Be creative here. List possible examples, case studies, true stories or even props you might incorporate to help the audience “get it”.

Presentation Tip #2: Talk with – not at – your audience.

Take the pressure off yourself. View your presentation as an opportunity to share what you have learned with others who can benefit from your experiences, instead of considering your role to be that of a “presenter” or “performer”. Think of sharing with, not presenting to.

Focus on the needs of your audience. For example, imagine there is one person in the audience that has similar needs to a close friend or family member. Pretend you are talking directly with them on a one-to-one basis. What would you say that could help them be substantially better off if they acted upon the information you share?

How could you say it or show it…using a conversational delivery style that allows your beliefs and enthusiasm to show through? By talking with, and not at your audience, your sincerity and believability increases and therefore so does their attention and interest level.

One additional reminder: remember to look at and talk to them, not to your slides. The facial expressions of your audience can be a great source of feedback on how well they are processing your information or if and when you may need to clarify or reinforce one of your points.

To be continued in the next issue: Joe will share two more tips on how to involve and challenge your audience to make information come alive and to increase retention.

Joe Tabers, CSP, is a Certified Speaking Professional and management consultant based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the author of over twelve adult learning methodology workshops, including the highly successful “Effective Interactive Trainer” and “The Effective Interactive Presenter” programs. Joe can be reached at Productive Training Services at (800) 805-8780, or by email at jtabers@www.productivetraining.com.

You can also download this article free by clicking here. You will need
Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 to view and print the newsletter.
(Click www.Adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html
to download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.)
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How Your Communication Can Help Reduce Relationship Tension

by Joe Tabers, CSP

When ineffective communication or communication style between two or more people becomes a reoccurring issue, it can create unnecessary tension in relationships. This tension between individuals not only can take some of the enjoyment out of a task or project; if it continues; it can negatively affect team performance and results.In your past interactions with people at work as well as home, it is likely you have observed or even encountered some bad communication and relationship experiences. If you’re like me, you must have noticed how consistently this added tension can “eat away” at interpersonal trust, and reduce or even kill team spirit.

There Is Hope

The good news is that this relationship tension can often be reduced or even eliminated by making a sincere effort at adjusting/adapting our own style of communicating to better “match” the other person’s style of communicating. The purpose of this article is to share you two types of communication adjustments for you to consider practicing for more easily connecting with your coworkers, clients, customers or family members.

The two types of communication adjustments I am referring to are your pace and priority when communicating with others. For clarification; Pace relates to how quickly you or they prefer to communicate (speak, listen and respond). Priority relates to your or their need for socializing (relationship oriented) versus getting down to business (task oriented). See illustation.

There is an old saying that seems to fit well here “He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened”. Lao-tzu 531 B.C.. If so, then I believe that… “he who knows and controls himself is even better off than enlightened”. Joe Tabers,CSP 2003.

So How Can We Help Improve Communication?

Our first communication challenge then is to recognize our own natural style or tendencies when communicating with others. 

You don’t have to be a psychologist to do this for yourself (or even to observe it in others). Simply ask yourself these two questions:

  • Eighty percent of the time when I’m communicating with others do I tend to have a naturally slower or naturally faster pace? or. .(is their pace naturally slower or faster?)
  • Am I naturally more task driven more relationship driven? or…(are they more task driven or relationship driven?)

For example: if my natural style is usually more fast-paced and relationship oriented I have what is often referred to as an influencing or expressive style. Another example would be if my natural style is usually more slower paced and task driven I have what might be referred to as more of an analyzing or thinking style. ( See illustration again).

Our second challenge is to recognize that our own natural strengths under stress or carried to the extreme can often come across or be perceived by others as sources of irritation or communication weaknesses.

Tip # 1:  slowing down your rate of delivery and responding if you are naturally fast-paced or speeding up if you are naturally slow-paced can really help here. Likewise being patient with others with a naturally slower delivery or appreciating the energy of others with a naturally fast-paced delivery also helps here.

Tip # 2:  controlling your need to socialize or relate to others i.e. excessive small talk or controlling your tenancy to get down to business and cut communication short can really help here. Likewise increasing your tolerance for other’s needs to either “relate” more emotion or details to you or to respect other’s needs to “get down to business” with little or no small talk … can help you increase rapport in this relationship area.

A willingness on your part to adjust your style of communicating according to the style of those who you are dealing with can go a long way to help building healthier relationships while improving teamwork. Hint: Don’t wait for others to adjust their style to yours…Take the initiative make the effort to adapt your style to theirs.

Think about it…When we visit a foreign country or even when we’re a guest someone else’s home we usually make an effort to adapt to their culture, language, dining style or norms. If we don’t, we risk comming across as unpleasant or a source of irritation for them. Conversely if you had guests in your home you would probably find it irritating if they were critical of the way you did things and you wouldn’t want them telling you how or what to cook!

So during your next meeting or interactions with other people within your organization, department or family…consider this reminder. Watch for opportunities to control your natural strengths/tendencies when communicating and look for opportunities to be more flexible with their natural strengths/communication tendencies. In doing this you too will help in the easing of relationship tensions. What is the benefit for your efforts? How about greater respect, results and cooperation from others. Not bad for a little extra effort!

Joe Tabers, CSP is a certified speaking professional, senior consultant and one of our most requested communication skill-building specialists. Since 1984 he has been helping organizations interested in improving trust, teamwork and communications in the workplace. If you believe your company or one of your departments within it would benefit from more effective communication; please contact our manager of customized training Kathy Snell @ 1 800-805-8780  for a free, no obligation consultation.

You can also download this article free by clicking here. You will need
Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 to view and print the newsletter.
 (Click www.Adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html
 to download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.)
  Please feel free to pass this on to others in your department, to clients, etc.

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