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Wisdom from the EMProfessor
Keep it simple. The second biggest mistake in a presentation is making your slides too busy or too complicated. The best slide is often a single, simple picture with no text at all. If you put text on a slide, you are telling the audience to read instead of listen. Once they miss some of what you were saying because they were reading instead of listening, you are no longer communicating effectively. Study how to make your slides understandable so your audience can invest their mental energy into listening, instead of figuring out your slides. Only include the bare minimum on a slide to back up what you will be saying during the presentation. If you must include a complicated diagram, build that diagram over a sequence of slides that adds details a little bit at a time. If you feel inclined to create a busy slide, ask yourself why. Maybe you are emotionally attached to some less-important information and just “really really” want to include it. Maybe you are afraid to get a question about that less-important information. Get over this and delete that information from your slides. If you must, create an appendix for the less-important information and use the appendix only if a question arises. [...] Read more...
The most important skill you need to find success in science and engineering is — effective communication. I have seen many bad scientists and engineers climb the corporate ladder when they are good communicators, but I have rarely witnessed bad communicators rise the ladder regardless how strong their technical skills are. Perhaps it is unfortunate for the greater good of humanity, but I have to rank communication skills as more important for career success than anything else. Communicating effectively takes practice and much can be learned by observing good communicators. Good communicators put a lot of effort into organizing their information. They invent new ways to explain and visualize complicated concepts. Good communicators use simple language and simple but high-quality graphics. It is common for good communicators to spend more time on their graphics than they do on their words. To become a good communicator, sharpen your computer skills for desktop publishing and generating graphics. Practice public speaking. Strive to make everything you produce professional, polished, and consistent. Make your documents and presentations fun and memorable, while still being professional. [...] Read more...
You need to sell yourself, not your slides The biggest mistake you can ever make when giving a presentation is to make the focus of the presentation on your slides instead of yourself. I think the incorrect mentality at work here is to create a glorious set of slides, then sneak off to the side somewhere to not be in the way of those glorious slides. This is the exact opposite of what you should do. Instead, make yourself the glorious center of attention with perhaps some simple slides off the side to backup what you are saying. This will make your presentation more personal, and your ideas will be more easily understood. We are human and need the personal interaction for effective communication. Listeners will remember you as much as they remember your talk. This will help you network and help you build your professional reputation. TED Talks are usually excellent examples of how to give an effective presentation. Watch some TED Talks with this advice in mind. [...] Read more...

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