Presentation Tip: Tackling Technical Talk

The Glory of Your Geekness

The #1 struggle we hear when coaching a presentation team is, “How can we make technical information interesting? How do we talk about schedule and budget? It’s so boring.” Boring presentations lead to losing important projects. How do you turn that around?

The answer is simple and fun.

Raise your hand if you have an inner geek. Don’t worry – no one’s watching! Are you that person who knows more about building codes than anyone else on the planet? Is it a game to you to make the numbers balance on that cost projection? Thank God for you and your inner geek. Your geek is your talent, your special gift, and it’s what makes you great at your job.

What does geekness have to do with presenting? Everything! Geeks have fun doing “that thing” that they’re geeked about. People are usually good at things they like doing, and clients hire people who are good at what they do. Ergo, people hire geeks!

Problem is, we believe it’s inappropriate to let our geek show up at a presentation. We say, “We must appear and sound professional,” which will lead you straight to boring.

Here’s what to do. Now, some of these ideas may sound a little crazy, but hang in there. You’ll get the results you’re looking for – a memorable technical presentation!

Brainstorm Your Geeky Story

1. Give yourself 30 minutes to brainstorm.

2. The geekier the ideas, the better.

3. Don’t delete or edit your ideas. Everything is valid.

4. (Crazy part – takes 2 minutes!) Before you start, move your body. Shake, dance and sing. Yes, I said, sing! Take a deep breath, and you’re ready!

5. Some jump-start questions:

  • What would I really like to say (I wouldn’t say it), but what would I really like to say?
  • What’s the thing about this building code or cost projection or whatever that turns me on?
  • What’s my secret sauce? How do I secretly make it happen?
  • How would I explain what’s fun about my job to a 5-year-old?

You’ll be amazed at your discoveries. Take those golden nuggets to your group rehearsal and give them a try. Be careful! Don’t water them down, clean them up or professionalize them. Keep ’em geeky; we wanna know why those building codes rock!

You will have just found the key to a winning presentation by bringing your technical material to life!

Your presentation (and secretly, database) geek,


— Carol

Tales from the Field

Tales from the Field

From a Project Manager:

I often think about what I learned at the Graceworks’ workshop. I’m so happy that being yourself is the way to go because I experienced firsthand the reality and power of being vulnerable and honest with your audience.

I was with a firm that was in the running for a huge project with PepsiCo. It was a very prestigious assignment, and we were up against some stiff competition. I was the project manager, and when it came time for me to speak in our presentation, I told them a true story about myself.

My son was best friends with a boy whose mother worked for Pepsi. Per corporate culture, employees are to buy products for home from PepsiCo and related companies, not the competition’s. Now, I was a Coke-drinker for decades and even owned stock in Coca-Cola. When my son’s friend convinced him that Pepsi was better than Coke, my son pressured me to switch. After the proverbial taste comparison, I actually preferred Pepsi. Then, to put my money where my mouth is, I sold my stock in Coca-Cola and purchased PepsiCo.

The hiring committee cheered at the end of my story, and subsequently, we won the assignment.

I must say, I enjoyed telling that story to PepsiCo, and I guess my enthusiasm showed. I was myself, spoke from my heart, and it’s still one of the best presentations I’ve ever made.

Got Bigness? Got Boldness? Email us your most hilarious presentation tale, your most outrageous leadership story or your most ridiculous communication anecdote.

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