So, bubby, you’ve been tagged to give a seminar. How often do colleagues turn their undivided attention for one hour to your view of the world? What an opportunity to talk about your work and polish your personal brand!What can you do to impress your audience and leave them wanting more?
Well, it’s Friday night, a martini awaits, so I’m turning this one over to Dr. Mephisto…
1. They’ve given you 50 minutes. Fill’er up!
All talks are somehow constrained by time. Make sure that you use every minute. Better yet, it’s OK to run over a bit into the question period. If you don’t make up the time by talking faster, you can always watch the clock and, if you find yourself running short, just advance–click click click (damn those builds!)–to the final conclusions slide. Or, just pause for a moment, and let everybody “who has some place to go” leave the room.
After all, it’s your time, isn’t it?
2. You’re doing so much interesting stuff–everything goes in.
You’ve got projects you’ve finished, projects your doing, projects that are just a gleam in your eye. Put them in! Your audience will be impressed by your breadth. It’s OK if you spend only a few minutes on one or two of them. If it’s even tangentially related to what went before, that’s enough.
Work the ADHD. Embrace the ADHD.
3. They already know why it’s important. That’s why they’re there.
Why in the world would you insult your audience’s intelligence by opening your seminar with five minutes straight out of an Intro textbook? They’ve been ruminating over your title all morning. If it intimidated them at all, they’ve spent some time in the literature catching up.
Your audience is ready. Hit the ground running.
4. It’s a big screen. Use it.
Yeah yeah, I know. “The secret of design is leaving stuff out.” Rubbish. Your audience wants content. Arrows. Colors. Clip-art. Explanatory text. Footnotes. It is so boring to contemplate a lonely graph while listening to the speaker drone on about it.
If it wasn’t meant to be on your slide, why is there a button for it in PowerPoint?
5. Why memorize your talk when you can read it?
Everybody is busy. Practicing your talk takes time away from making cool slides. Just transfer your outline to bullet points, slap about 5 bullets per slide, then read them aloud with your audience.
So take this advice from Dr. Mephisto and I guarantee you will make one helluva impression.
Any other great advice? Burn off some of that good karma and leave ’em in the comments.
See also: 5 steps to writing your talk (a graphic designer’s perspective)