How to Give a High Quality Presentation

I’m out in Colorado this week working with the NEON cyberinfrastructure team to put together presentation material for a big review meeting they’re having in June. It’s a challenging project, chock full of interesting and complex envisioned science experiments, elaborate engineering to design, construct and collect data from sensors scattered all over the country (and even airplanes), and the need for a high-performance interconnected software and hardware architecture to keep it together and maintain the data flow.

In short, it’s a hugely complex project – and for these presentations in June, we may only have an hour to condense all that technical information down into something understandable, well-organized, and compelling. How do we do it?

The answer: using effective storytelling. Quite randomly and serendipitously, I ran into a blog post by Chris Spagnuolo this morning (Twitter: @ChrisSpagnuolo) called “12 Things I learned from Story Time”. Apparently he went to the library recently with his 3 year old, and while listening to the story and observing the behavior of the children and the storyteller, extracted lessons for professional presentations. (I have a 3 year old too, so this post really connected with me!) Here’s a snippet of his insight into how to give a high quality presentation:

Ah, the expert mind…it always convinces us that we can’t learn from “simple” experiences. But after it was over, and I reflected a bit on Story Time, I realized that there were valuable lessons to take away from it that we can all use in our presentations. Believe it or not, librarians and others who read to children at Story Time may be some of the best presenters in the world, and we’ll never see them on TED or hear much about them (plus they have some of the toughest audiences in the world). If you really want to get your presentation game on, maybe you should start reading books to the itty-bitties at your local library.

I’ll encourage you to click through to read the 12 lessons. The suggestions complement Stephen Denning’s insights into storytelling as a leadership tool as well. Thanks for sharing, Chris.

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