Technical writing presenting

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Preparation makes for good presentations.
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Materials[edit]

When preparing a presentation it is essential to have sufficient support or background information.

To create even a 30 minute presentation, it is essential to have a thorough background knowledge of the subject and this comes only through reading relevant material or watching the relevant videos.


Finding Materials[edit]

The first part of researching a subject for a presentation is to find relevant materials.

Useful tools:

  • Internet search engines
  • Local libraries

Internet search engines and local libraries are the best tool for finding background reading about a subject.

  • Wikipedia

Wikipedia is an excellent source for more in-depth reading.

  • Trade journals

One of the most useful tools for finding up-to-date information are trade-specific magazines.

Filtering Materials[edit]

Once you have found your materials, it is important to filter them.

The aim of filtering your material is to isolate the most important facts and details to support your presentation.

Filtering will give you quotes, statistics and anecdotes which can be used in your presentation.

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Preparation[edit]

On average a 1 hour presentation needs 7 hours of preparation

Being prepared is more than just having a few scribbled notes on a piece of paper.

Few people can speak convincingly without proper preparation.

Remember the phrase - Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance


Know your subject[edit]

Without a thorough knowledge of what you are presenting, you won't convince anybody.

A presentation is like the tip of an iceberg, you must have plenty of knowledge behind you.

Know your audience[edit]

Knowing your audience is vital, and affects your presentation.

How you speak to your peers is significantly different from speaking to senior management.

You need to tailor your material to suit the audience you are addressing.

Know yourself[edit]

People are only confident when they are themselves, you need to have a style which works for you.

If you are a quiet person, don't try to be a lively jokey person when giving a presentation.

If the audience cannot trust your personality they will not believe the information you are presenting to them.

Know your presentation[edit]

Practice your presentation at least 3 times before you actually give it.

It is important to be aware of timings and where visual aids are used.

Practicising your presentation will give you more confidence in what you are presenting.

A well practised presentation is a slick and impressive presentation.

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Organization[edit]

Being well organized is an essential part of a good presentation.

There is nothing more distracting for the audience, or embarrassing for the presenter, than a poorly organized presentation.


Script?[edit]

Firstly, there is no shame in needing a script.

The important thing to remember when using a script is to have it clearly labelled and not simply read it out.

Obviously a script is useful if you are very anxious about the presentation.

The best aid to memory though is to have the main points of the presentation in note form, with any quotes and stats you want to mention.

Having the main outline of the presentation on 2 or 3 pages of A4 will also prevent the speaker's lectern from becoming cluttered.

Only truly exceptional speakers are able to give a presentation entirely without notes.

Visual Aids[edit]

If you are using visual aids it is important to keep them organized, this is particularly true if you are using an overhead projector.

It is also true if you are using PowerPoint for your presentation - having the slides at the appopriate places is key.

Set-up[edit]

Don't just turn up at the appointed time and expect everything to be ready for you.

Always get to the venue of the presentation at least 30 minutes before you are due to start.

This gives you time to set-up any technology you are using, such as linking a laptop to a projector, microphones etc.

Giving yourself plenty of time also allows you to set the venue up to your liking, and to have one last run through of your presentation.

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Presentation[edit]

Time to give your talk.

First impressions[edit]

It is vital to keep your audience with you, creating a good first impression will help you do this.

The audience is more likely to listen to someone who is smartly dressed and clean. Judging your audience in advance will help you to dress appropriately and as such remove a possible stumbling block to your audience being receptive to your message.

During the actual presentation always keep eye contact with the audience. If you are addressing a large audience, find three or four people who are clearly listening, and sitting in different parts of the venue, and focus on those people. This will help you forget the presence of other people as well as give you more confidence. If you are anxious about eye contact or are nervous in front of people, a trick to remember is to look at the foreheads of the audience. You are not making full eye contact and the audience thinks you are looking at them.

Most importantly, be confident. Posture, smile, enunciation are all parts of confidence.

Common Pitfalls[edit]

  • Insufficient research
  • Being poorly prepared
  • Irrelevant visuals
  • Trying to be too clever

Further Reading[edit]

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