Perfecting the Presentation
There’s more to making a memorable presentation than narrating a PowerPoint. AEC professionals must be able to communicate confidently about their work to anyone; not just members of the media, but also to potential clients and the general public. They must articulate their expertise in a clear and compelling way—while staying on message about the firm and its mission—to people who may not understand the complexity of their work.
Here are some insights that go beyond the basics of smile-speak-slowly-make-eye-contact from Chris Anderson, curator of the TED Conferences, that can help put you in control and connect with your audience, whether it’s a one-on-one presentation of your latest projects to an editor or a roomful of neighbors and business leaders gathered to learn about your work in their community:
Edit your topic to a single big idea and connect every point to that theme. The most effective presentations have a common thread that runs through their entirety. If you’re showing a diverse portfolio of your work, explain how each project—residential, commercial, cultural, or institutional—relates to your firm’s ethos; that’s the key to continuity. It can be hard to edit yourself, but be ruthless; omit details or anecdotes that detract from what you want the audience to take away from your talk.
Consider the listener’s perspective. Build your big idea step-by-step, using ideas and concepts that are already familiar to the audience. How can you intrigue, entice, and engage them so that they want to hear what you have to say?
Get personal. People crave a sense of connection to others. Integrating universal emotions and experiences, like humor and vulnerability, into your presentation will strengthen the bond between you and the audience, and get them on your side. While you may be the authority on your speaking topic, keep your ego in check—it’s a connection killer—and focus on shared qualities.