How are we transforming scientists into world-class presenters?
So, you’re a molecular biologist leading your field in groundbreaking research. That’s great! The problem is that you’re being told by pushy marketing people that, “the marketing department has created slides and we need you to use them so we can maintain a consistent approach to the market.” In effect, you’re being told NOT to adjust your presentations to your unique audience.
Is there really a problem here? Isn’t consistency in outreach efforts a good thing? Companies can’t afford to have every presenter making or adjusting their slides and deviating from corporate branding, can they?
Successful Presentations are Audience-centric and Objectives-driven
Using company-supplied slides is great if the slides support your presentation content. Each presentation needs to fit its audience. This means the presenter needs to do extra research to invest the time to determine audience needs. It doesn’t matter if your presentation is clear to other scientists if it doesn’t make sense to your audience of finance and marketing people.
Audience research is step #1. Step #2, creating clear, concise, and compelling, audience-centric objectives, is the foundation of a great scientific presentation. And the objectives drive the slide selection and creation. Resist the temptation to create your presentation as you go inside a PowerPoint deck.
Einstein had it right. He believed that great presentations begin with a clear objective and then progress by building a clear presentation structure around meeting specific audiences’ needs.
The Need to Unlearn Presenting Like an Academic Science can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be presented in a difficult-to-understand manner. Sadly, many presenters learned how to present by experiencing poor presentations in the classroom, from high schools and universities.
For the past 25 years, we’ve worked with amazing scientists who are fantastic in their field. But many have not benefitted from learning how to design and deliver great presentations.
Scientific presentations are unique. They are not just about the transference of data, evidence, research, or logical arguments. Scientific presentations must connect with the audience logically and emotionally. These presentations are about helping others see the world differently. It’s the WHY behind the WHAT. With that new insight the audience can think about and solve problems in new ways that, before the presentation, they wouldn’t have thought of.
Structure Is Key
Like a great paper in college, a great presentation starts with a solid outline that supports the objectives. Each main point of the presentation must have a clear beginning, middle, and end (think of your favorite books, symphonies, movies, etc.). Real-world complexity is made understandable one simple idea at a time. Connections must be clearly drawn, processes mapped, and points built one upon another until you can deliver a conclusion that creates a crafted, compelling finish, not an end.
The Bottom Line
Powerful scientific presentations begin by understanding the audience. Audience insight drives the creation of clear, concise, and compelling objectives. And objectives drive structure and content. Be sure to build logical and emotional connections to help your audience see the world differently. This process enables you to design and deliver scientific presentations that make a difference for your audience.