Public Speaking – Five Mistakes To Avoid During a Technical Presentation

When someone tells you that you need to attend a technical presentation,
what is the first thing that goes through your mind? Do you imagine
yourself watching a parade of numbers, statistics, and data points?
Do you imagine an unending list of boring and unreadable PowerPoint
slides?

Unfortunately, this is frequently the case. Furthermore you will often
see the same mistakes from one speaker to another. You can distinguish
yourself from the majority of other speakers by avoiding the same
common mistakes.

Here are five things to avoid the next time you need to give a technical
presentation:

  1. Drawing attention to your anxiety: “I’m sorry, I’m not used to doing speeches.” “I found out at the last minute that I had to do a speech and I didn’t have much time to prepare.” “I really don’t know what to say.” Too often, an inexperienced speaker will use one of these sentences (or variations thereof) to begin the speech. Generally, the speaker does so to apologize and to get clemency from the audience. In still further situations, that speaker will apologize every time he or she makes a mistake and will offer some excuse. The audience will notice on its own that you are ill at ease. When you mention it over and over, you only encourage them to pay attention to that fact. How do you avoid this issue? Here are a few solutions:
    • prepare as early as possible;
    • use humor when you make a mistake;
    • trust yourself when you speak to the audience;
    • focus on the needs of the audience, not on how you feel;
    • refuse to do the speech without adequate preparation time.
  2. Forgetting the audience: that is, forgetting to maintain constant contact with the audience. Speaking to a group is like a dialogue, even if there is only one person doing the speaking and the rest of the audience is only listening. Your role as a speaker is to make sure that your audience is following you throughout your speech. When you speak, maintain visual contact with your audience. Don’t get distracted by your PowerPoint slides, your notes, or anything else that takes your attention away from your audience. When you maintain visual contact with the audience, you can see in their eyes and in their posture if they understand, if they are paying attention, or if they are bored. This will allow you to adjust more easily to their state of mind.
  3. Incorrect use of PowerPoint: as a presentation tool, PowerPoint is overused. Furthermore, it is often improperly used:
    • it is used to show large amounts of text when it should be used to display visual information;
    • it’s used as a memory jogger instead of a presentation aid;
    • all the emphasis is put on the PowerPoint slides even though the slides should only add to the presentation.

    Most audiences are sick of PowerPoint presentations! Nevertheless, many speakers still believe that PowerPoint adds “professionalism” to their speech. This is only true if it is used effectively. Otherwise, it makes you look like an amateur. “Less is more” is a good philosophy when using PowerPoint. There is elegance in simplicity. A simple slide is more effective than an overcharged one. A slide with no animation is more appreciated than a slide that uses all of PowerPoint’s special effects. Don’t forget that PowerPoint, although it is meant to simplify your life, can often make it more complicated. With PowerPoint, you hope that your computer will not crash, that the projector will work, that there won’t be a power failure, that you won’t need to skip around in your slides, that everyone can see the screen, and so on. Without PowerPoint, there’s only one variable: you! And you have 100% control over that variable.

  4. Being too abstract: do we need a lexicon to understand your speech? Is your topic so abstract that the audience only hears words instead of seeing images? Most human beings retain information as images, sounds, or feelings. Rarely will they remember information as words or abstract concepts. In order for your audience to understand and remember what you say, you have to paint a picture in their minds. They need to be able to hear you and see a picture that accompanies your words. One of the best ways to do so is to give examples. In an academic situation, theoretical concepts don’t necessarily need an immediate practical application. But outside of academia, it’s important to translate what you say into a sensory experience for your audience. When your topic is very abstract, take the time to illustrate it with concrete and specific examples. The examples will help cement the information and help with understanding.
  5. No call to action: after your speech, what should your audience do? How can they apply your words to their lives? Many technical presentations end by default, rather than by design. The speaker presents information, answers a few questions, then leaves, expecting the audience to know exactly what to do afterwards. How often have you heard a speech with copious amounts of excellent information, but then had no idea where to begin using it or how to put it into practice? Don’t hesitate to tell the audience when and how to apply what you tell them.

A technical speech will lose its effectiveness and its usefulness
if it is not properly presented. The five points above are some of
the elements that can distract your audience and keep them from understanding
the information that you present.

These are points that can and should be taken into account during
your preparation, prior to standing before your audience. By taking
the necessary time for proper preparation, the speech will be better
structured, more convincing, and more useful to your audience.

Product Creation Process – Step by Step

Creating products and in particular digital products is a very straight forward process. In this article I am going to go through the product creation process step-by-step so that you know exactly what you need to do.

Finding your niche

The first thing you need to decide upon is the kind of topic you are going to create a product about. This should be something that you are knowledgeable about and have skills in. This makes it far easier for you to create a product when you already have some form of expertise.

Customer demand

Make sure that there is going to be demand for your particular product. This means that you need to check that people are wanting this information and that there are customers who have already paid money to obtain that information. This means that your product idea is likely to be profitable. This is really important because you might create a brilliant product but if no one actually wants it and no one will actually pay for it then it becomes useless.

Creating your product

Outline your product so that you know what you will include in it and the areas that you will cover in detail. Have an idea in your mind who your target customer is. Are they advanced for a beginner? Make sure that your product is created for a specific type of person in mind so that you can then target your marketing efforts towards that specific person.

Once you have produced an outline then you just have to create that product. This could be a written e-book, an audio recording, or a video depending on the depth of information you need to convey.

Packaging your product

Once your product is ready you need to upload it to your web server so that people can click on a link to be able to download it.

Sales page

In order for people to purchase your product you will need a sales page that describes exactly what your product does, the benefits and the kind of results that people might expect to see if they purchase your product. You will need to make sure that you have a payment system in place and that it is working correctly. It is always a good idea to test this and to make sure that the download page is also working.

Marketing your product

Now you can begin to market your product to your target customer. Make sure that you always emphasize the benefits and why your product makes the ideal solution to your customers need.

Understanding the Spanish Present Subjunctive

The subjunctive in Spanish can be described as a “mood”. It is often hard for the student of Spanish to know when to use it. This article deals with the present tense, although there is commonality as to when the subjunctive is used in all its tenses.

Firstly, to explain what I mean about commonality, the subjunctive is used with certain types of verbs, of which there are seven categories:

1. Verbs that express a wish (for example, deseo que, quiero que)

2. Verbs that express doubt or uncertainty (for example, dudo que)

3. Verbs that express possibility or probability (for example, es possible que)

4. Verbs that negate facts (for example, no creo que)

5. Verbs that express feelings (for example, siento que)

6. Verbs that express necessity (for example, necesito que)

7. Verbs of advice (for example, aconsejo que)

Alternatively, it may be easier to remember the WEIRDO formula:

W – Wish, desire, E – Emotion, I – Impersonal expressions, R- Recommendations, D – Doubt, O – Ojal√° (meaning “hopefully”).

Secondly, the subjunctive is always used in the “negative imperative”. Also deemed as a “mood”, the imperative in the affirmative means, for instance, “Sit down”. In the negative, this changes rather obviously to “Don’t sit down”. The difference is that to express the imperative in the affirmative, we use the present indicative tense as our basis and change the endings to imperative ones accordingly. As the imperative is an “order”, it is generally used in the you informal forms in both the singular and the plural. If it goes into the negative, the present subjunctive is applied, as explained. Note that if you need the formal form of you (usted or ustedes), the subjunctive is used automatically.

Thirdly, the subjunctive is also used if there is a change of subject. Let me demonstrate this by example:

Yo quiero que ella haga la cena – I want her to make the dinner. This sentence includes a change of subject from “I” to “her” and thus we need the subjunctive. Note how we also have a verb of “wishing” (querer).

Compare this with:

Yo quiero hacer la cena – I want to make the dinner. There is no change of subject in this sentence, thus the conjugated verb can simply be followed by an infinitive (even though we are using a verb of “wishing”).

Fourth, there needs to be a subordinate clause followed by “que” for the subjunctive to be used (but only if we are using the type of verb out of the seven categories above).

No creo que ella sepa cocinar – I don’t believe she knows how to cook. This answers the question of “what”, i.e., you do not believe what? (Answer: that she knows how to cook). Therefore, the first part of the sentence is the subordinate clause and the second part the main clause. If, by contrast, you wanted to say that you did believe she knows how to cook, you would not use the subjunctive because no doubt is being expressed and whether or not there is a subordinate clause followed by “que” is immaterial.