Highly specialized technical complex topics are often associated with boring, butt-numbing, brain-draining, hum-drum, buzzkill presentations.
So how do you tackle complicated technical content head on and still deliver an engaging, memorable and bodacious presentation?
How do you move your audience from saying, “I thought that presentation would never end,” to “Booyah! That was totally awesomesauce!”
Our Need For Technical Presentations
Trade organizations depend upon accuracy, efficiency, quality and safety for success.
Technical presentations often have to be done. The key to attendee attitude, behavior and skill change is that these highly complex presentations should be focused on the attendee’s learning. Not the presenter’s speech.
As a technical presenter, your job can be challenging. You want to present the critical technical content. You also have to understand the attendees’ biology of the brain for real change to occur.
What Are Technical Presentations
Technical training is instruction based on a technical product or task says author and technical training supervisor Sarah Wakefield.
A technical product is something that helps in the mechanical, production-related, scientific or engineering process. It includes computer software, devices, electronics, equipment, instruments and tools. We may even call technical products doodads, doohickeys, gadgets, gizmos, thingamabobs, thingamajigs, trinkets, whatchamacallits, whatchadoodles and widgets.
Technical tasks are the duties, jobs, processes and procedures performed using technical products.
Communications, leadership, management, presentation skills, project management and team skills are nontechnical topics. We often call those topics soft-skills.
10 Questions To Consider During Development Of Your Technical Presentation
Before you start developing your technical presentation, here are 10 critical questions to help you focus on a fit-for-purpose presentation.
1. What is the primary goal this presentation is supposed to meet?
This is the most important question you need to know when developing your presentation. You’ve got to understand why you are developing and presenting this course. To be relevant and add value you must have a sound business purpose whether its accident prevention and safety, awareness to action, cost avoidance or savings, efficiency, productivity or using a product fully and effectively.
2. Who is the target audience?
Sometimes the target audience is defined by job title, location or product use. You cannot have “everyone in the industry” as your target audience of you will fail at meeting the needs of the audience. How does someone identify whether they are part of the target audience or not?
3. How relevant is this information?
What is the context for this information for the target audience? Why do they need to know this information? How will it help them succeed or keep from failing in their job? What is the work environment like for the target audience? How does the content help them solve their problems?
4. What are the three primary learning outcomes (LOs) for this presentation?
The LOs should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and testable. Identify three things you want the audience to know when they leave the presentation. These LOs serve as the plumb line for your content development.
5. Is this a beginning, intermediate or advanced presentation?
This will help you identify what content to address.
6. Is there a prerequisite for this presentation?
What does the target audience already need to know before they can develop an understanding of this topic?
7. What resources does the target market already use?
What charts, online data, programs, references books, resources, or websites does the target audience already use regarding this topic? Often, you can refer the audience to job aides that might already use for specific parts of the content.
8. How has the target audience learned about this topic in the past? What materials are already available?
This is critical to identify as so much training is informal and passed from professional to professional. The answer to this question can help you identify where to start your presentation.
9. What changes are likely to happen with this topic, process or product in the near future?
This will help you with the credibility, relevance and timeliness of your presentation.
10. How will you determine the success of this presentation?
Talking about the content and covering all your points should not be the identifying measure here. The focus should be on your audience and their learning.
Application Of The Information
Lastly, you want to focus on how your audience will use and apply your presentation when they return to work. Help them understand the topic, how it fits into their world and then how to apply it.
What other questions would you add to this list for technical presenters? Why is it critical to ask the right questions in your initial presentation design?
Kristin Arnold says
Another question to add: What’s wicked, bodacious, totally tubular or just “interesting” about YOU or your TOPIC that can make the technical presentation come to life?
Sometimes, technical presenters leave the best part of themselves at the door. They restrain their inner freak to look “more professional.” In my experience, today’s audiences would much rather have the authentic you passionate about the topic and sincerely interested in the audience learning (see 1-10 above).