Presenting is important for everyone and how to present better
“It’s not science until you tell someone about it,” those were the sage words from one of my graduate school professors. Based on my experience in the professional science world, the statement seems even wiser. But I think it goes well beyond science, it’s universal. As an entrepreneur I read and hear plenty of advice that says even if you build a fantastic product if no one knows about it you don’t earn many customers. If you can’t grab people’s attention your product development efforts are often futile. The skills required to communicate effectively with your audience are equally universal and fundamental.
The importance of communicating and presenting effectively was one of the driving factors in creating Slideboxx. We saw people spending a lot of time making slides and dealing with the technical aspects of slide layout and design, sometimes so much time that they weren’t able to devote quality time to think about their message and the best way to organize their presentation. We felt that if people could have a PowerPoint library where they were able to easily access previously made slides, slides where they had already worked out the technical aspects of PowerPoint they could spend more time on the thought process of creating a coherent, compelling message.
Presenting in the scientific and technical fields is very challenging and people in these fields rarely receive good training on how to present effectively. A friend recently sent me an article from the journal Nature describing the state of communication skills in the sciences. It emphasizes the importance of being able to speak about your science and cites examples of a number of excellent scientists who were successful in part because of how they could communicate their work. This is not to say great presentation skills alone make someone a great scientist; however it does suggest that brilliance alone often isn’t sufficient. The author suggests a critical skill for the scientist (and really anyone for that matter) is to be able to think about their work (or product) as strangers would and then help the audience understand using familiar language.
- tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em
- tell ‘em
- tell ‘em what you told ‘em
I learned this in leadership training for an advocacy group with which I volunteered. I also heard it very recently during a science slide review session. Like I said at the beginning, the importance and fundamentals of public speaking are universal.