Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals

Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals: Achieving Excellence

NAOMI KARTEN
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: IT Governance Publishing
Pages: 226
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hh6hg
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  • Book Info
    Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals
    Book Description:

    If you have ever tried to get out of giving a presentation because of nerves, or if you feel there is room for improvement in your presentation techniques, then Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals is for you. This book gives you invaluable tips on how to make your presentation clear and accessible, how to interact with your audience and how to retain their interest while keeping your anxiety under control. Naomi Karten has used her vast experience — both positive and negative — on the front lines of public speaking to provide key advice (and many chuckles!) in this engrossing read for the technical professional.

    eISBN: 978-1-84928-074-7
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. ABOUT THE SOFT SKILLS FOR IT PROFESSIONALS SERIES
    (pp. 5-5)
    Angela Wilde
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. 6-7)
    Ellen Gottesdiener

    “Oh drat,” you think. “I’ve got to do a presentation!”

    Nevertheless, you smile and ask, “Oh, sure – what’s the date?”

    Presentation Skills for Technical Professionalsto the rescue!

    Out comes Naomi Karten’s splendid book. You open it, eager for your session with your personal presentation skills coach. You are easily captivated by Naomi’s clever style and practical guidance on presentations, and grateful for the online references and resources that supplement the text. Reading this book not only prepares you for your upcoming presentation, it also helps you get in the groove and enables you to gain confidence as you...

  4. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    (pp. 8-8)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. 9-9)
  6. Table of Contents
    (pp. 10-16)
  7. INTRODUCTION: PLEASE JOIN ME IN WELCOMING …
    (pp. 17-25)

    You’re the featured presenter at today’s meeting. Your stomach is in knots. It’s 15 minutes to start time. You teeter to the front of the room. Your heart is pounding. You set up your material, nearly tripping over a cord. People begin to arrive. You turn away so they can’t see you quivering and quaking. Ten minutes to go. Your hands are shaking and sweaty.Never again, you tell yourself. Seven minutes left. The room is packed. You feel wobbly. Five minutes to go. Your throat tightens up. Four minutes. You can’t breathe. Three. You’re certain you’re going to die....

  8. PART I: BECOMING A SKILLED PRESENTER
    • CHAPTER 1: OVERVIEW OF THE BASICS
      (pp. 27-32)

      Your department’s work on a complex new system is behind schedule. Your staff, facing last-minute changes and unanticipated bugs, is struggling to keep from falling even further behind. Your customers, concerned about delays, are watching closely. Your CFO is tallying the cost to the company if the release date slips. Your manager keeps asking for updates. The pressure is mounting.

      Then who calls but your CIO to tell you he wants you to give a presentation at next week’s division meeting? “It only needs to be 20 minutes,” he tells you.Only20 minutes!

      OK, maybe this situation isn’t identical...

    • CHAPTER 2: FINDING YOUR VOICE
      (pp. 33-38)

      Geoff, a software engineer in one of my presentation skills workshops, told me during a break that he didn’t see how he could ever do what I do. He described himself as reserved and interpersonally clumsy. In his view, my style was animated and enthusiastic and he couldn’t imagine himself in those terms.

      I could appreciate Geoff’s concern; I had the same reaction during my early years as a presenter. I didn’t think I could ever excel at public speaking and I certainly couldn’t become like some of the highly energetic presenters I’d heard.

      Over time, however, I discovered that...

    • CHAPTER 3: ATTRIBUTES OF GOOD AND BAD PRESENTATIONS
      (pp. 39-45)

      You’ve attended presentations, so you know that some were worth listening to and some wasted your time. Some energized you and some could have cured insomnia. Some capture your attention in the first few minutes. Some, well, you get the picture.

      What makes some presentations better than others? This chapter answers this question and helps you determine what you want to do, or avoid doing, in your own presentations.

      Contrast two presenters, Audrey and Bradley. I met Audrey, a consultant to CIOs, when we were guest speakers at an IT off-site meeting. She told me people would be blown away...

    • CHAPTER 4: PRESENTATION ANXIETY AND HOW TO TAME IT
      (pp. 46-53)

      Do you ever have dreams about giving a presentation? I don’t mean daydreams. I mean dreams at night while you’re asleep. I do. In one dream, it was five minutes to my starting time and I couldn’t find the room I was to speak in. That, thankfully, has never actually happened. In another dream, it was well after the starting time and I couldn’t get the projector to work. Due to the kindness of others, that too has never happened.

      There’s another dream that still puzzles me. I was giving a presentation on establishing service level agreements and couldn’t recall...

  9. PART II: DEVELOPING ENGAGING CONTENT
    • CHAPTER 5: KEY STEPS IN SHAPING YOUR PRESENTATION
      (pp. 55-68)

      There’s no one right way to develop a presentation, but you might find the process easier if you keep in mind the following key steps. As you gain experience, you may prefer to follow a different sequence or to combine certain steps; for example, many presenters edit as they go along, rather than as a distinct step. But this set of steps will help you ensure you haven’t overlooked anything critical.

      Get started – now!

      Establish your presentation goals.

      Identify your audience.

      Organize your ideas.

      Incorporate supporting material.

      Accommodate differences in learning style.

      Tailor your material to fit the context....

    • CHAPTER 6: OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS
      (pp. 69-79)

      The opening of your presentation prepares people for what they’re going to hear. The closing reminds them about what they heard and helps them take away key points. Technical professionals tend to fall short with both of these segments.

      In addition to framing your presentation, the opening and closing provide a foundation that supports it. If your presentation is a weekly 10-minute status report to your team, you can skip the formal opening and closing. Otherwise, consider the suggestions in this chapter for delivering a strong opening and closing.

      I once attended a presentation for technical support managers given by...

    • CHAPTER 7: INTERACTION AND THE ADULT ATTENTION SPAN
      (pp. 80-86)

      The adult attention span is short. Very short. Especially among young people.

      In the old days, a boring presentation led audience members to twitch, doodle, do crossword puzzles, and whisper among themselves. These days, of course, the distraction of choice is texting, tweeting, Web surfing, and other online addictions, and that’s even when the presentation is fascinating. Plan your presentations with this reality in mind.

      Some people claim that the average adult attention span is 20 minutes and therefore you’d better say everything important in the first 20 minutes. Others maintain that it’s 10 minutes. Do a Web search for...

    • CHAPTER 8: THE POWERFUL IMPACT OF STORIES
      (pp. 87-96)

      Here is the gist of a presentation I recently attended:

      Fact, fact, fact.

      Fact, fact, fact, fact, fact.

      Fact, fact.

      You could hear the sound of eyelids slamming shut.

      For many technical professionals, facts in the form of data, specifications, requirements, code, test plans, bugs, and so on, are where their comfort level is. But in a presentation, facts alone can become boring. Stories that support the facts can enliven a presentation.

      According to Chip and Dan Heath, authors ofMade to Stick, stories are a key element in making ideas and information memorable. This chapter will help you increase...

    • CHAPTER 9: USING (WITHOUT MISUSING) POWERPOINT
      (pp. 97-110)

      Countless books explain how to use Microsoft®PowerPoint®effectively. Trainers teach the topic. Coaches and consultants offer tips. Advice is plentiful.

      Nevertheless, most presenters display slides that are cluttered, text-filled, and boring. Worse, they use their slidesastheir presentations rather than toenhancetheir presentations. This problem is particularly common among technical professionals.

      Make no mistake: your slides significantly influence your listeners’ reaction to your presentation. This chapter will help you make that reaction a positive one.

      Remember Tom, the high-tech executive inChapter 6who began his presentation by saying, “I want to get through the initial slides...

  10. PART III: PREPARING TO PRESENT
    • CHAPTER 10: LOGISTICAL PREPARATIONS
      (pp. 112-119)

      Failure to pay attention to the logistical preparations outlined in this chapter can ruin a presentation. Let the following suggestions guide you in addressing logistical details that are part of every successful presentation:

      Dress to unstress.

      Review your audio-visual requirements.

      Confirm the location and date.

      Meet your deadlines.

      Be on site well ahead of time.

      Be prepared to end on time.

      Take care of yourself before your presentation.

      Determine what you need to bring with you.

      In many companies, casual attire is the norm for technical professionals, unless they will be seeing customers in which case more business-like attire may...

    • CHAPTER 11: PRESENTER SURVIVAL KIT
      (pp. 120-124)

      Here is a list to use as a reminder, so you don’t forget anything you need to bring to your presentation. You may not need all these things, but it’s better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them.

      Your laptop. This may seem too obvious to put on a list, but if you’re list-oriented, include it. Don’t forget the power cord. Make sure your slides are loaded on your computer if you’ll be showing slides. And don’t leave your computer at security at the airport. Amazingly, people do this all the time.

      An...

    • CHAPTER 12: THE VITAL ROLE OF PRACTICE
      (pp. 125-128)

      When you don’t practice your presentation, it’s obvious to listeners that theyandyou are hearing it for the first time. Although practicing is the one of the most important contributors to a successful presentation, it’s one that busy people often skip. This chapter explains why and how to practice.

      Practicing helps you look, feel and sound professional and prepared. Consider these benefits:

      You can’t be certain you know your material until you try it out loud. Furthermore, as software architect, Becky Winant, points out, once you speak the words aloud, you may have a little less trepidation about speaking...

  11. PART IV: PRESENTING WITH CONFIDENCE
    • CHAPTER 13: HOW TO MAKE A WINNING IMPRESSION
      (pp. 130-141)

      It’s time to face your audience. This chapter offers 11 recommendations for making a positive impression and avoiding mistakes that many technical professionals make:

      Build rapport with the audience.

      Open with confidence.

      Speak in your own natural voice.

      Make eye contact – and you contact.

      Don’t become dependent on your notes.

      Use a microphone.

      Present standing.

      Avoid the need to read.

      Monitor your pace.

      Use humor judiciously.

      Observe your presentation as you give it.

      Building rapport is about starting before you start. The 10 or 15 minutes before you begin your presentation is a chance to mingle with audience members,...

    • CHAPTER 14: HOW NOT TO ANNOY YOUR AUDIENCE
      (pp. 142-150)

      This chapter describes an assortment of things that might annoy an audience:

      physical mannerisms

      vocal mannerisms

      clichés

      speaking too fast

      excessive apologies

      treating the audience with disrespect

      tentativeness

      mumbling.

      Many of the technical professionals I’ve coached have been guilty of one or more of these things. So have I. That’s because they are all things we might say or do during a presentation without even realizing it.

      The starting point in eliminating possible annoyances is to become aware of them. That’s what this chapter will help you do.

      We all have mannerisms, things we say or do that are harmless...

    • CHAPTER 15: HOW TO HANDLE AUDIENCE QUESTIONS
      (pp. 151-155)

      Many technical professionals have told me that one of their biggest presentation fears is being unable to answer questions from the audience. Trepidation about questions is understandable. It’s the fear of standing there like a goofball saying, “Duh, uh, mmm, well, let’s see …” and hoping that someone sets off the fire alarm so that you’ll have to leave the building, at which point you can escape. This chapter will help you successfully respond to questions.

      If you fear audience questions, I relate to you. As a novice presenter, I used to plan my presentations to end precisely at the...

    • CHAPTER 16: HOW TO MANAGE A DIFFICULT AUDIENCE
      (pp. 156-161)

      An occasional objection from an audience member is an opportunity to clarify a point the person may have missed or gain a new perspective by listening to the person’s ideas. But it can be just plain tough, and even emotionally draining, to face customers, suppliers, senior managers, or even colleagues who vociferously disagree with you, constantly interrupt you, ruthlessly demean you, or in other ways, disrupt your presentation or treat you rudely. This chapter offers suggestions for managing these trying situations.

      Once I label audience members as difficult, I find it harder to view them as reasonable people who may...

    • CHAPTER 17: HOW TO CONQUER NERVOUSNESS
      (pp. 162-169)

      If, despite the suggestions in the previous chapters, you still feel plagued by nervousness when you present – or even just think about presenting – you’re not alone. Many people, including even some long-time presenters who consistently impress their audiences, struggle to overcome their nervousness.

      As you know, some nervousness when you’re presenting is actually an energizer. But it’s no fun to face an audience when your heart is pounding, your breathing is shallow, your palms are sweaty, and your knees are trembling. If your nervousness feels extreme, you may want to try some techniques that many people regularly practice...

  12. PART V: TIPS FOR SELECTED CONTEXTS
    • CHAPTER 18: PRESENTING TO MANAGEMENT
      (pp. 171-178)

      While everything in the preceding chapters is relevant in presenting to management, there are some additional things that you’ll want to keep in mind. This chapter focuses on tips for presenting to anyone from your immediate boss to the CEO and board of directors. If they’re higher in rank than you, the following tips apply:

      Tailor your presentation to their perspective.

      Get to the point.

      Incorporate an appropriate level of complexity.

      Accommodate their communication preferences.

      Be cautious about using humor.

      Anticipate possible questions and objections.

      Rehearse.

      Presentations to management are typically for the purpose of informing and persuading. The key...

    • CHAPTER 19: PRESENTING TO CUSTOMERS
      (pp. 179-185)

      Whether your customers are business units to whom you provide services and support, companies to whom you sell products and services, or colleagues down the hall (or half a world away), their perspective as customers is likely to differ from your own. As a result, when you present to them, they may hear things differently from what you intended.

      Given this potential for misunderstanding, this chapter offers the following tips:

      Consider your customers’ perspective.

      Guard against potentially ambiguous terminology.

      Show that you understand their business.

      Watch your attitude.

      Allow ample time for questions.

      Be careful how you sell.

      Remember that...

    • CHAPTER 20: PRESENTING TO YOUR TEAM
      (pp. 186-193)

      Presentations to management or customers tend to be high-pressure situations. By contrast, presentations to your team are an opportunity to present with a minimum of pressure and formality. This chapter offers tips for presenting to team members when they can all be physically present, as well as when they are geographically dispersed.

      If you’re apprehensive about giving formal presentations, presenting to your team is an excellent way to gain experience in a non-threatening setting. Topics abound: demonstrating a clever technique, proposing a new project, providing an update on meetings you attended, describing what you learned at a recent conference, and...

    • CHAPTER 21: PRESENTING TO A FOREIGN AUDIENCE
      (pp. 194-200)

      You’re giving a presentation you’ve given many times to your colleagues. But this time listeners are staring at you, as if they don’t understand a word you’re saying. What’s going on?

      It could be that theydon’tunderstand if the language you’re speaking isn’t their native language. Given the global nature of so many companies and the prevalence of geographically dispersed teams, the odds are good that you will some day give a presentation to people whose native language is not your own. This chapter offers tips for presenting in these circumstances.

      When the native language of the audience differs...

    • CHAPTER 22: PRESENTING AT CONFERENCES
      (pp. 201-207)

      Speaking at an international, national, regional, or local conference can significantly enhance your credibility, clout, and professional status. It’s an opportunity to share your insights, convey useful information, and gain a reputation as an expert in your topic. And it’s where many technical professionals get their start in public speaking.

      Here’s what’s exciting about presenting at conferences. Many other presenters will exhibit the attributes of the worst presentations, as outlined in Chapter 3. They’ll move around too much. They’ll face the screen. They’ll avoid eye contact. They’ll omit interaction. They’ll display text-filled slides and immediately begin talking, oblivious to the...

    • CHAPTER 23: PRESENTING WEBINARS
      (pp. 208-213)

      Enabled by Web wizardry and slashed training and travel budgets, webinars have become very popular, especially because many are available at minimal or no charge. That makes webinars an excellent training resource.

      When you present a webinar, audience members can be anywhere. They view your slides on their computer screen and hear your presentation via their computer speakers or by dialing into a specified phone number. This chapter will help you prepare and deliver your first (or next) webinar.

      For presenters, webinars have both positives and negatives. On the negative side, presenting a webinar is impersonal. You can’t see your...

    • CHAPTER 24: PRESENTING WITH CO-PRESENTERS
      (pp. 214-218)

      A presentation that you give with co-presenters can deliver more value than you can deliver alone – or less. The experience of presenting with co-presenters can be exhilarating – or debilitating. Your presentation anxiety can be diminished when you present with co-presenters – or amplified. Which of these it turns out to be depends on how you and your co-presenters prepare and share the platform. This chapter offers suggestions to help you do so successfully.

      During a presentation I gave with my colleague, Jackson, he frequently interrupted with comments when it was my turn to present, distracting me and interfering...

  13. FINAL THOUGHTS
    (pp. 219-220)

    Gayle, a participant in one of my presentation skills workshops, wrote this comment in her evaluation form: “I wish we had spent more time on getting rid of presentation anxiety.”

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if merely discussing presentation anxiety would make it go away? But Gayle knew that just talking about it isn’t enough because she added, “I guess it would have helped if I had given a presentation when you gave us the chance.”

    Yes, indeed. Two of the class assignments gave participants the opportunity to create a 90-second presentation and then, if they chose to, deliver it. Both...

  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 221-223)
  15. ITG RESOURCES
    (pp. 224-226)