When you attend presentations given by our fellow engineers, what is the most common mistake you see them making in their talk?
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I agree with everything that has been said so far.
ü Too much information per slide
ü Too little font
ü Too much bells and whistles
ü Too much info and just reading from chart
ü Not knowing your audience and their needs/understanding
ü Using acronyms or not explaining what they are
ü And definitely not having the A/V aids ready before the presentation is to begin. I think for me, this is the most annoying.
I need to be able to read ALL content on your slides from the last row of the auditorium. If you have a chart, I need to be able to read the X and Y axes. If you have data that are presented in units that are not what you can recall from undergrad studies, define the units in simplified terms.
If you have multiple data series on a single chart, consider using symbols rather than colors to distinguish series.
If you are a non-native speaker, ask a colleague for an honest critique of your pronunciation, accentuation and tempo. If you will not be capable of meeting the language standard before your presentation, consider having a native speaking colleague give the presentation.
Simplify. These presentations are not dissertations. Leave the super complex discussions to the publication.
I concur with the earlier comments on tone etc.
All conferences need to have a plan for time management for the speakers in order to maintain the schedule according to the program. Here is some advice about time management:
· It is necessary to discuss time management with the speaker before the start of the speech. Prepare a program that includes the allocated time for speeches and meeting breaks. Each speaker must be aware of the time allocation before the start of each speech.
· Have a stop watch available to time each of the speakers. When the speaker reaches 2-minutes before the end of the time, then show a hand signal (discussed before the speech). At the end of the allotted time, another pre-arranged signal to show the speaker that the end of time has been reached.
· If a speaker exceeds the time limit by a significant amount of time, it is necessary for the forum master of ceremonies to stand up and take position next to the speaker, and shutdown the presentation.
· Most speeches are followed by question-and-answer session. Discuss the plan for Q&A with the speaker beforehand, and understand the time allocation for Q&A in the meeting program. Often this is short, maybe 5 to 10 minutes. Know the time allocation and cut-off mark for Q&A before the start of the speech. If some attendees want to continue Q&A afterwards, then they can do so afterwards at lunch or in a small gathering, so the forum can continue with the other speeches according to the schedule outlined in the program.
Management of speeches at a forum is a skill taught at Toastmasters. There are various lessons about how to be a master of ceremonies (meeting manager), and about how to handle time allocation. Not all speeches go according to plan, and it is necessary to have experience about speech management before a forum.
I will tell a story about one forum I attended that suffered from poor speech management of time allocation. The master of ceremonies wanted to encourage discussion during Q&A. Only 5 minutes was allocated for this according to the program, but the master of ceremonies allowed the Q&A to continue 10 and 15 minutes for each presentation. This occurred after every speech, and the accumulated time of Q&A discussion caused the program exceeded the time budget. The forum was supposed to end at 4:00PM, but the meeting extended onwards until 6:00PM. It was a long day at that forum, and most attendees grew weary about the extended discussions during Q&A amongst a few people. Most of these discussions could have been handled in a meeting amongst the interested parties after the meeting at dinner, but instead, the entire meeting went well over its scheduled time allocation.
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The rule is never exceed your allotted time or go over your stop time by more than 1-2 minutes – even if the speaker before you started late and ran over.
Once your time is up, get off the stage and take questions informally one to one until the next speaker is ready to be introduced; you can always invite people to continue out in the hall if you wish.
This is a task for the meeting moderator who should have a stop watch or keep time on a clock. Asking speakers to abide by the "honor system" never works, as speakers will take as much time as they deem necessary. A well run public meeting requires a moderator who keeps time, and knows how to stop speaker who exceeds his or her time limit. It is the moderator of the meeting who keeps the time of the speeches according to the meeting agenda.
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When I am in this situation, I pull the planner aside and ask whether he wants me to stop on time even though we are starting later.
The typical response is either yes or "you can go 10 minutes over."
But a speaker who does not confirm with the planner is asking for trouble.
Because without knowing your stop time, your pacing is unlikely to be right.
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