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Following a recent training program I led on Effective Presentation Skills, I received the following email. Are you guilty of the presentation design challenges that Sara had?

Hi Wendy: Just wanted to follow up with the results of my technical presentation that happened at a conference earlier this week.  I had a frightful time organizing the material for that and as I was practicing it I was trying to whittle the information down to fit the time frame.  However, I used your notes on sticking to accomplishing an objective and that helped immensely.  If I had not done that I would have been sunk.   

I think my problem is that I try too hard to anticipate questions in advance and pack as much information in as possible rather than allow gaps that could be answered in Q&A.  I want too much for everyone to completely understand everything and perhaps that should not be the aim of any presentation but instead to pique someone’s interest to follow up later to learn more.

I am a researcher presenting to a professional but non-research oriented audience.  Anyway, the result was that I went 5 minutes over my allotted time and as you had warned, sure enough, the moderator was not at all happy about that!  So I think I’m learning that I must not try so hard to tell my audience everything.  And maybe I should even deliberately leave out a few key things that anyone who is listening will pick up on it and turn it into a question.  That way the key things become highlighted in the Q&A, which essentially extends the amount of time spent on my topic.

As it turned out, there was plenty of time for everyone to complete their presentations in the session and there was sufficient time for Q&A.  Today, my supervisor stopped by and told me he had been talking to someone at the conference who mentioned my presentation and said good things about it.   Thanks for all your help!

It’s great to hear from you and the stories you’re sharing with me. I like to pass them on to others so, if you have a story or comment about the topics discussed in my blogs, I’d love to hear from you.

Speak up loud and clear!

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