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Technical Presentation Pitfalls

I do a lot of consulting work with large corporations such as Verizon, Paine Webber, UBS, Duke Energy, and Pfizer. More often than not, executives there, who have to make presentations, assume they can just give the facts, however technical, because their audience is technically inclined.

Don't make the same mistake; don't assume benefits are irrelevant to a technical presentation or that they are readily apparent. They often aren't, as they lie buried in technical jargon. Making the benefits link is seldom stating the obvious; instead, it results in clarity and persuasion.

Technical speakers also often assume a level of expertise—or vocabulary—in the audience that is just too high. Play it safe and never let your audience's level of education trick you into thinking you don't have to define your terms, make good analogies, and clarify benefits. I once gave a talk to a high-level management group—or so I was told. I had prepared a speech that I thought would also be suitably high-level, but it quickly became apparent that my audience—mostly professional staff and new to management—wasn't following me. I quickly adjusted the speech before I had lost the audience's interest entirely.


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