Sigh, so you’ve spent all that time collecting your information, writing the report, making the slides and even created a great handout. Now how much of your presentation do you really think that your audience will remember 30 minutes after you are done, 1 hour later, 1 day later, how about at the end of a month? Getting our information to first be understood by our audience is one way to be a successful communicator. The other skill that you must have is finding a way to get your message(s) to stick in your audience’s memory.
To promote understanding of your message, remember that people DO judge a book by its cover. In technical presentations this means that your audience will assume that if you have more of something in a figure, then the quantity of that thing is greater. Think about if you were trying to present plans for a new airplane and were trying to communicate how far it could fly. If you decided to show this by showing circles that showed how much fuel was required to fly a given distance. The circle for existing planes would be larger than the circle for your new plane. Although you are trying to communicate that your new plane can fly further, your figure is making it hard for your audience to understand this point.
We communicate information by changing things. As we move from one diagram or graph to the next if we’ve changed something, then our audience expects that that change really means something and we’re trying to tell them something. This also means that if you want to communicate to your audience that there is a change in meaning, then you must make a change in the appearance of your figure / graph.
Ok, last point to be made: just like this blog posting, everyone has a limit to the amount of new information that they can take in. If you overload them with information, then they will not understand the message that you are trying to communicate. If you have a lot of information to present, then you can communicate it if, and only if, you present it piece by piece so that your audience can absorb it little by little.
Whew, all this might be too much for one post; however, I though that it was important and so there you go.