Re: Technical Presentation Skills

Subject: Re: Technical Presentation Skills
From: "Less is more." <yvonne -at- VENUS -dot- SMARTSTAR -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 1995 09:29:31 -0800

Henri J. Blits asked about presentation techniques and good ideas for
teaching students to share information in presentations.

In addition to the things that have been said, I've found it useful to
apply Aristotle's "pillars of persuasion" to technical presentations.
(I don't have my Greek philosophy library handy, so I'm paraphrasing, here.)

Many people, especially engineers, look at a technical presentation as a
brain dump from them to the audience. (Kind of like the way most write
specifications.)

I did the same, until I was in ToastMasters for awhile. I realized that you
have to apply the same knowledge of the audience to a speech that you apply
to technical writing. If you are speaking on a subject, you are probably the
expert -- at least you probably know more than the audience. You should cover
the information more slowly than you would need it covered (since this is the
first time they are hearing it.)

Also, Aristotle said that when you want to persuade someone (and I would add
when you want to teach someone):

o First establish your credibility. Your audience must see you as knowledgable,
honest, and someone who understands their technical needs. When you
establish credibility, they are prepared to listen to you.

o Second, show the audience why your topic is important to them. Aristotle
called this establishing "emotion". (Well, actually he called it something
in Greek, but I don't have those references at work.)

o Finally, comunicate your facts.

Actually, you can mix these elements throughout your talk.

Yvonne DeGraw
Sr. Technical Writer
SmartStar Corporation
yvonne -at- smartstar -dot- com


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