As an engineer, you would rarely be required to make a presentation. Public speaking is useful, but not crucial to an engineer hiding in his workbench. Of course, having good presentation skill is required for someone with the ambition of rising to management levels.
If you are this someone, please look elsewhere. This post, “engineer’s guide to making a presentation” is not for you. Instead, this post is for an engineer who only wants to be left alone doing his things. Forced into speaking to an audience about his things, he needs good advice on how not to make an ass of himself. This guide would not only achieve that, but also stop all such time wasting endeavors in the future.
A normal “guide to making a good presentation” would tell you to speak clearly, look the audience in the eyes, don’t read from a paper, don’t read your presentation slides, make occasional jokes, tell stories to illustrate your point, and so on.
Now, forget all of the above. As an engineer with no public speaking skill, you will fall flat on your face if try any of these tricks. You are used to mumbling your words. If you looked the audience in the eyes, you will freeze like a rabbit in the headlights. Nobody ever laugh at your jokes. Your stories only make sense to a fellow engineer behind the workbench.
Instead, the tricks in this guide are designed to obscure, confuse and cut a presentation short. As a engineer who would rather hide behind his workbench than to stand in front of a crowd, the whole point of this guide is to reduce your suffering to te absolute minimum. And hopefully, you would not be required to go through the same ordeal ever again in the future.
Presents something complicated
Choose a deep subject that very few people know about. The more obscure, the better it is. This serves many useful purposes, for instance:
- You should end up with a very small audience, which would make the presentation more like a meeting than public speaking.
- The audience would probably not be able to ask any difficult question, since the subject is so obscure.
- The audience would probably not ask any question at all; thus the presentation would end faster.
Wear your geek shirt
This tells your audience you are a geek (doh!) It lowers their expectations, and remove the pressure of having to make the presentation interesting.
Don’t look at the audience
Look at your notes or the projected screen. If you don’t see the audience, you can safely ignore any raised hand. Also, need I mentioned again about rabbits and headlights?
Use an antenna pointer
I’m sure you know what an antenna pointer is. Don’t tell me you can’t find one in your favorite electronics spare parts shop. If all else fails, a real engineer should have an old AM radio sitting in the closet somewhere. There’s your antenna pointer!
Now, what’s the point of this fuss? Don’t we use laser pointer nowadays? Simply, if you have an antenna pointer, you would have to walk in front of the projected screen when pointing. The light from the projector will blind your eyes and obscure the audience, so you neatly avoid looking in their eyes, and freeze like a rabbit.
Make your slides wordy
Your slides would then be self-explanatory, meaning you don’t have to explain anything. Flip your slide, wait a minute for your audience to read it and you are done. Next!
Use lots of diagrams
A picture speaks a thousand words. A diagram, which is like a picture, should be worth at least a hundred words each. Therefore, for each diagram you put into your slides, you are saved from speaking at least a hundred words. Good bargain there.
Use large tables containing small fonts
The audience will struggle to read the figures in the tables. You can then say, “please take a moment to digest this table. It will explain my point perfectly.” You then stand back for five minutes before flipping to the next slide. Which should contains another large table with small fonts. Repeat.
Don’t ask if the audience have any question
You don’t want any smart alecks spoiling your day.
So there you have it. Now you can go back to your workbench and do your things. Nobody would ask you for another presentation ever again.