Train to Osaka: Finding inspiration in Japanese print ads
The Kawasaki Method: an enlightened presentation approach

M.D. gives advice on presenting technical information

Doc_2"Ted," a medical doctor from the USA, contacted me recently to share his thoughts on giving technical presentations. Ted attends many presentations and presents quite a bit himself, usually on topics most people (people like me) would find very technical. His advice is refreshing to hear. Below are his thoughts on technical presentations:

"Always ask yourself how technical do you really need to be. If you’re a specialist speaking to generalists, do they really need all the details? This is particularly true when discussing your own research or work (where it’s easy to get carried away).

• Can you say: “The technical details are in the handout” (to be distributed after the talk) or “for those interested in the technical details, I’ll be in the lobby after the talk”?

• Can one complex slide be broken down into several simpler ones? Can you use simple graphics and complex descriptions?

• Most importantly: for a technical presentation the basics that you discuss in your presentation tips are really important: opening, informal tone, use a remote, work the room, using the blank screen feature, and, of course, Passion, Passion, Passion!!!

I once saw a great talk on the notoriously difficult subject of biostatistics in which the speaker started his talk by standing up in his sportcoat and tie and said “I don’t know about you, but I get pretty worked up talking about biostats so I’ve gotta get this coat off and get ready to rock.” It was funny but genuine and showed passion and informality right from the start. A nice move I’ve copied on occasion."

     — "Ted" M.D., USA

When we think of presentations by physicians, we may think of dark rooms, detailed slides, and a voice at the back of the room narrating in detail "the facts" before the audience. But I've heard from several medical doctors (practitioners and researchers) in the past few months, including here in Japan, who do not fit this stereotype and are giving thought to how they may present better, especially when they present their important work to non-technical audiences.


Tom McKay

Great advice, Garr! I just blogged about this, and added a link to this excellent post.

As a marketing writer, copywriter and (recovering) technical writer, I'm constantly advising my clients to do the same things as "Dr. Ted" recommends: Consider who is in your audience (or readers) then tailor your material for them. Make it easy and worthwhile for them to listen/read. Keep it simple. (That's NOT the same as "Dumb it down.")

Keep on, Garr!

John Peden

Looking at putting these tips to work on Wednesday, I'm presenting a year long engineering project to a board of academics.

Thanks for the advice, its so easy to stick to the status quo but I think I'll be in a great position if I can set myself apart whilst giving them all the technical information they crave!

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