Welcome to Portland, Oregon! I am looking forward to meeting the many software, systems, and services process improvement professionals from around the world who are attending SEPG North America 2011. For many, the highlight of the conference is the cutting-edge technical program that features sessions selected by their peers.
Individuals presenting at this year’s SEPG North America—or anyone who is delivering a professional presentation, for that matter—may find these presentation tips helpful.
1. On-Time Arrival: Arrive on time for your presentation so that you can familiarize yourself with the presentation equipment in the session room. Learn how to seamlessly jump ahead or back to a certain slide, which your audience may request.
2. Face the Audience: Speak to your audience, not your slides. To fully engage your audience, make eye contact with them and speak toward them and try to avoid turning to your slides behind you.
3. Know Your Audience: You’re standing at the podium because you’re an expert on the topic, but don’t assume everyone else in the audience is on the same level. To relate to people at varying levels of expertise, avoid using jargon, and if you use acronyms, provide a brief definition.
4. Display Confidence: It’s okay to be nervous—it happens to many of us—but it’s not acceptable to be unprepared. Come to your presentation having practiced it several times. The more comfortable you are with your content, the easier it is to relax.
5. Use Humor…the Right Way: Don’t be afraid to incorporate an appropriate dose of humor into your presentation. But be sure that your humor is suitable for the audience and not culturally inappropriate.
6. Cite Your Sources: To display complete transparency and disclosure, know the source for all data that you cite that is not your own.
7. Pacing and Timing: Be aware of the time you have allotted for your presentation and pace yourself accordingly. Finish up your presentation in enough time to allow for audience questions.
8. Anticipate Questions: Before you ever step into the presentation room, spend some time thinking about questions that your audience is likely to ask, and formulate answers in the form of short sound bites so that you can deliver a complete yet succinct answer.
9. Stay on Topic: If audience comments begin to steer the presentation in a different direction, quickly steer the audience back on topic in a polite, assertive manner.
10. Connect: Include relevant social network information at the beginning and end. By including a Twitter name, Facebook group name, or LinkedIn group name, you’re giving your audience ways to connect with you long after your session is through. For attendees who are live-tweeting, this also tells them to what username to attribute key leanings—helping to further establish you as an expert and gain additional followers.
As a senior member of the technical staff at the SEI, I frequently stand up in front of groups of varying sizes to teach courses and deliver presentations at professional conferences and I remind myself of these tips before each presentation.
What tips did you find most helpful? Are there any tips you would like to share? Leave a comment on this post to share your thoughts.
SEPG North America 2011 Technical Program Co-Chair