Five must-have presentation skills for scientists and engineers

Posted on Jan 30, 2017

Five must-have Presentation Skills

1. Don’t Apologize

Apologies are only useful if you’ve done something wrong. Don’t use them to excuse unpreparedness, your nervousness or humble yourself in front of an audience. I have seen too many presentations where the presenter begins by apologizing for being nervous or for being a bad presenter before they even begin. This only undermines your expertise and trust.

2. Arrive Early

Don’t fumble with your visuals while people are waiting for you to speak. How often have you seen a presenter who can’t use the remote control, get the pointer to work or the video sound fails? They get frustrated. You grow impatient. Come early, scope out the room, run through your presentation and make sure there won’t be any glitches. Preparation will do a lot to improve your credibility.

3. Project Your Voice

Nothing is worse than a speaker you can’t hear. Even in the high-tech world of microphones and amplifiers, you need to be heard. When you arrive (early) practice by standing up straight and using the air in your lungs rather than your throat and project your voice so it resonates off the back wall of the room. This is the volume of voice you should use for your presentation, even with a microphone.

4. Eye Contact

Match eye contact with everyone in the room. People who seek eye contact while speaking are regarded not only as exceptionally well-disposed by their audience, but also as more believable and earnest. If you sweep the room with your gaze your audience will stay engaged and involved in the presentation. Those who keep eye contact gain credibility, trust and personalize the interaction.

5. Smile and have fun

Sounds impossible? With a little practice, you can learn to smile, relax and inject your passion into your presentations. Happy enthusiasm is contagious.

Robert Simpson is the president of PR Associates, an organization which translates complex scientific and engineering concepts to communicate them in ways that are easy for non-scientist to understand. Through a focus on training and the use of strategic communication tools, PR Associates helps science minded professionals and their organizations build favourable reputations and achieve success.

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At PR Associates, there is no learning curve because health and science communication is all we do. As experts and seamless extensions of your team, we use science storytelling to clarify complexity, capture imaginations, shift mindsets, and stimulate investment interest.

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