Presenting tips

This afternoon I will be presenting to a bunch of engineers, including 3 judges from the IET, in an attempt to win 150 quid, IET membership and an invite to the final in London.

Right now I’m bricking it, so this is actually an attempt to stop myself thinking about it too much, so here are some presenting tips on what to do and what not to do:

– read everything off them. They’re visual aids to remember what you need to say and give people the inkling of what you’re talking about.
– put stuff on there you won’t mention. A pretty picture of your cat isn’t exactly something that’ll come up when you’re talking about arduino.
– “here’s a graph. Next slide.” – if there’s something complex on your slides, give people time to take it in, don’t skip on to the next part.

– keep them simple, stupid. A lot if people favour putting pictures or graphs on over text: this helps people who can’t see and means that if you screw up, the aid is just that: an aid. Its not necessary to the talk, just nice to have.
(Yeah that’s my only tip. I’m sure other people have more.)

– rush. This makes you look nervous. If you do feel like this, pay attention to how fast you’re going, take a deep breath and slow down.
– say “uhm” and “err” – this is hard to snap out of it. For me the more practice I got in front of a camera, the less I did this.
– use too much technical language: this sort of depends on your audience, but in the case of mine, the people I’m presenting to are not arduino hackers so won’t know what a sketch is, or potentially, a comment in a program. This includes dropping acronyms like everyone should know them.
– talk too quietly or too loudly: again this will get better the more you practice.
– talk monotone: don’t force your voice to bounce around, but try and make sure you’re putting accents and raising or dropping your voice in appropriate places to what you’re saying.
– write EVERYTHING you’re going to say on a flash card. Write down cues and words to remind you what points to make.

– practice with a camera. Its hard to watch yourself, but I for example noticed I was swaying and slouching slightly. Doing it over and over again will also help you memorise what you’re saying, but…
– take flashcards in case you get stuck and have a brain freeze moment.
– see if friends or family will help you and watch you. As I mention, I hate watching myself (most people do) so I was lucky that Craig and David are awesome people who kept poking me to practice and show them.
-Add a little humour
-Use stories and personal experience
-Be yourself: its great that you’re able to impersonate Steve jobs, but he was never trying to impersonate someone else, and if you’re faking it, this will show. Develop your own style.

Body language
Its estimated over 80% of what is said is perceived through either nonverbal communication, or through your tone of voice.

– lean, wobble or fiddle: stand up straight. If you find yourself moving, walk about the platform rather than wiggling. Avoid wearing clothes you can fiddle with.
– stare at one person: keep moving your eyes or look just above their heads.
– talk to your monitor or your feet
– put your arms crossed over your chest: this gives off ‘I’m closed’ and makes other people feel and interact in this way

– smile
– do the opposite of that which is written above.

Before the talk
– panic. Take lots of deep breaths and distract yourself.

– drink a cup of tea. If you don’t like tea, something similar. I’m doing that now. Trust me, it works.
– make sure you have everything you need: notes, slides, any visual aids

Ultimately, enjoy it. If it goes wrong, have some apple juice, grape juice or barley water depending on your preference, and add it to the wealth of experience you’ve got. Then tomorrow stand up and try again. (This advice actually applies to most things in life…)

Please suggest any more tips via twitter or commenting.

As an aside, I won the IET present around the world Bristol heat, so a huge thank you to Craig Richardson and David Whale for being awesome at helping me prepare and practice for this, and to all of the hackers and makers who’ve inspired me to take an active role in educating people about stem.
There will be another blog on how it went…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s