I just left the American Psychological Association convention. Sixteen thousand attendees, many of whom hold a Ph.D. in psychology. Researchers, practitioners and professors. Each of them must communicate to be effective. What percentage of them do that well? I don’t know, but fewer than I wish. The best I heard were, clear, succinct and enthusiastic. The worst were pedantic, failed to enunciate and filled the time with irrelevancies that only their mothers would not criticize.
Just because you are smart and possess massive knowledge, you are not excused from the following expectations:
1. Leave the audience better off in some way. They must have learned something that is applicable!
2. Spare us the preambles, context and history. It almost never adds and frequently bores.
3. Don’t tell us about yourself. We are sitting there because we want to learn from you. Assume credibility.
4. Make references available to those who request them. Do not display them. We trust you to have them-see#3.
5. Leave out the homemade videos. They aren’t as good as you think.
6. Use PowerPoint slides sparingly. Packed slides that are poorly done are simply insulting to the audience. The disclaimer that you are not “technical” is no excuse. No one sprung this on you and PowerPoint does not require deep technical skill.
7. I can’t believe it is necessary to include this one. Do not read what is on your slides!
None of these expectations are new, surprising nor are any of them remotely rocket science. To ignore them is disrespectful and negligent. Finally, if you are brilliant and knowledgable you are more than capable of building your presentation skills. Choosing not to means your work and ideas won’t have the impact they could.