Tech Presentations: Key Strategies for Success

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Community Hub.


Navigating the intricate world of technology requires more than just expertise; it demands the ability to share that knowledge effectively. This article embarks on a journey to uncover the most effective strategies for crafting presentations tailored for the tech-savvy audience. We will dissect the elements that make a presentation not just informative, but memorable and engaging. From leveraging the latest tools to understanding the nuances of audience engagement, we aim to provide a comprehensive guide that empowers tech professionals to deliver their message with precision and impact. We'll discuss these strategies with U.S. M365 MVP Melissa Marshall.



MVP Melissa Marshall


Share with us your journey into becoming a top-level presenter.

I started my career as a professor at Penn State University, where I taught public speaking courses for engineering students. While I was there, I had the good fortune to give a TED Talk entitled "Talk Nerdy to Me" about the importance of science communication, and that really launched my ideas on scientific presentations into global prominence. I began to receive additional invitations to speak at conferences and provide training workshops at companies and institutions.  In 2015, I went full-time into my speaking, training, and consulting business, Present Your Science.  I now help the leading tech professionals and companies in the world present their work in a meaningful and compelling way that inspires stakeholders to take action.


Could you please share with us the three main tools to improve presentations?

  1. Be audience-centric. Your ability to be successful as a speaker depends upon your ability to make your audience successful.
    TIP: Be an interpreter of your work, not a reporter. Always connect each piece of technical info to a "So what?" point.
  1. Filter and Focus. When you try to share everything, you share nothing.
    TIP: Start your planning with the 'view' you want your audience to have at the end of the talk. Then ask yourself “What would they need to know in order to get there?"
  1. Show Your Science. Your slides should do something for you that your words cannot. This means make your slides VISUAL not VERBAL.
    TIP: Avoid bullet points (seriously!). Have a brief take-away message at the top of each slide and support it with visual evidence.


What are the main challenges that presenters face during a presentation?  

Presenters often allow the "status quo" of how slides are typically designed in their industry or at their company to dictate their choices.  Unfortunately, this status quo is often rooted in text heavy, bulleted slides which are not successful for an audience.  Instead of designing slides how you have always seen it done, I think presenters need to use a more strategic, evidence-based approach for their slide design.  That's why I worked with the MS PowerPoint team to create this slide design template for technical presenters. This template is fully customizable, but it helps to lead the presenter to a design strategy that focuses on take away messages supported by visual evidence.  Which is a big step in the right direction for technical slides that are more successful for an audience.  

Also, presenters often struggle to filter their details in presentations, and they overwhelm the audience with too much information.  This can be improved by beginning your preparation by identifying the most critical single message you must convey.  And then focus on including information that relates to that message.

When sharing data, it's important to be very descriptive about not just what the data is, but why the data is significant. It is easy to get in the habit of simply sharing the information, without providing context for it.


How are you using AI today to help you with presentations?  

I love sharing PowerPoint Speaker Coach with my clients.  This is an awesome AI-Driven tool that provides the speaker with private feedback on presentation elements like rate of speaking, emphasis, verbal fillers, and inclusive language.  It's a great way to add some structure and purpose to practicing a presentation. 


What advice would you have for tech professionals beginning their journey presenting?

Look for more opportunities to present!  Most people have some anxiety associated with speaking in front of others, which causes them to avoid those situations as much as possible. However, the answer to becoming more comfortable speaking is to simply DO IT MORE.  It's counterintuitive to what we feel like we want to do, but if you embraced the discomfort of presenting more often, you would find quite quickly that you are all the sudden becoming more comfortable and confident.  

In summary, the journey through the landscape of technical presentations is one of continuous learning and adaptation. The strategies discussed here provide a roadmap for creating presentations that not only convey complex information but also engage and inspire the tech community. By weaving together a narrative that resonates with the audience, utilizing visual aids to clarify and emphasize key points, and delivering with confidence and passion, presenters can leave a lasting impact. As technology continues to advance, so must our approach to sharing it. Let this article serve as a catalyst for innovation in your presentation techniques, empowering you to illuminate the path forward in the ever-changing world of technology.

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