Presenting is hard work

I’m scheduled to deliver a presentation to a national newspaper next week on how to increase their web traffic. Apparently I am something of an expert on the subject. Who knew? My presentation will focus on traffic from search engines but will also contain some pointers on attracting repeat visitors. I was originally asked to act as a consultant but evidently I’m too expensive, so instead I get to talk for an hour.

For me, one of the most difficult parts of a technical presentation is finding its starting point. I often forget how much I know and usually assume the same level of comprehension from the audience, overlooking why I am speaking in the first place. This time I am presenting a fairly technical topic to a non-technical group so I am finding myself starting from first principals then building up (or down) a point. Hopefully I can avoid getting bogged down with too much detail. My presentation right now looks like a crash course in content management, HTML, search engines with a dash of marketing thrown in for good measure.

My talk makes use of slides and, like anyone relatively new to presentations, I quickly found myself dumping as much information in as many bullet points as possible. Stepping back, I realised this would make for a dull talk as I knew I would just use the slides as a crutch. I then changed my tack and instead put as little information as possible on my slides. This will allow me more freedom to speak without being tied to my slides, which are now more punchy as a result.

It’s amazing how easy presenting appears compared with how difficult it actually is. It’s just talking, how hard could that be? People like Steve Jobs make presenting look as effortless as breathing. We as the audience don’t see the hours and hours of preparation, agonising and practice which go into those keynotes. Everyone thinks they can present well, but few actually can. I won’t be able to present like Steve Jobs, but at least I have his tools.

  1. N. Duncan

    July 13, 2006 at 11:59 am

    I was at this presentation. It was well organized, informative and above all, useful. The boss wants to hire you to fix our problems. Don’t know how interested you are, but you can expect a call.

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