Educating Non-Tech Employees: Tips and Tricks

Have you got a presentation on something technical coming up? Here's how to keep your listeners from tuning out and get your message across.

It’s hard. You’ve got to do a presentation on something technical, but you know your audience won’t care. The moment they hear “counter-phishing training” or “new OS”, they’re just going to tune out.

So how do you get them engaged in the subject matter? Here’s six tips and tricks that will help make your presentation a success. In fact, you can use them for non-technical presentations as well!

1. People’s Attentions are Short

It doesn’t matter that your subject matter is important, or if you get the boss to bark at them beforehand and order them to pay attention. You’ve got around 30 minutes of peak attention, at best. At worst, they tune out in the first few minutes.

Time your presentation, and if it goes over 30 minutes, ask yourself if everything in there is actually necessary.

2. The Slides are Secondary

If you’re doing a PowerPoint presentation, then you shouldn’t duplicate what you’re saying on the slides. In fact, the only thing on your slides should be what you can’t explain verbally, like images and graphs.

The reason for this is simple. People can read what you’re saying off the slide far faster than you can speak. That means before you’ve even finished speaking, they’re going to be bored.

3. Tech Should Be Less than Half

If you start talking technical for too long – even if that’s what the presentation is about – people’s eyes are going to glaze over. The technical talk should never be any more than 50% of any presentation. This also applies to marketing statistics, or anything that really gets into raw data.

So how do you actually talk about these things without getting overly technical? Bring it back to your audience and how it affects them, personally. Paint a picture if you have to, perhaps a scenario in their everyday life where what you’re talking about applies.

To a lesser extent, you can talk about how your subject affects the business, but your mileage may vary depending on how much the employees care about this.

4. Use Jokes & Interaction

Jokes are proven ice breakers, for both you and your audience. It doesn’t matter how cheesy it is!

The best time is at the start of your presentation. A good trick is to use something IT-related from YouTube if you think it relates even loosely to the subject.

Try and engage your audience by asking non-rhetorical questions. You can even go to one of your colleagues and ask a question you know they have the answer to. “Hey Jim, what’s the most common kind of user problem we hear about?”

5. Be Energetic

If you have a dry voice and you’re going through the motions, this is going to hurt the presentation. Try and be energetic, and broadcast enthusiasm.

6. Don’t Overcomplicate

Try not to introduce too many concepts. If you’re using slides, keep it to one subject per slide and make sure the slide isn’t cluttered.

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