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How To Make a Technical Speech

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When tasked to make a technical speech in front of a non-technical audience, here are some tips you could use.

Just because the topic is technical, it doesn't mean that it has to be boring. In all kinds of speeches, the listeners’ interest and understanding should be the top priorities. When tasked to speak in front of a non-technical audience, here are some tips you could use.

1. Get the audience's attention.   A successful technical talk seizes the audience's attention and keeps it throughout the presentation. Be lively, animated and enthusiastic. Make it look natural; if showmanship is not your style, don't attempt it. Use visuals that are simple but catchy. Avoid a monotonous speaking tone. Bored listeners become non-listeners.

2. Capture their interest.   After getting their attention, making your topic interesting is vital. You have to show that your subject is relevant and important to them to get them interested. The key is sensitivity to your listeners' needs, and approach the situation from their point of view--not yours.

3. Build understanding.  Make it a point that you are able to make the complex subject simple and the esoteric commonplace. Use everyday language, not jargon. If you must use technical terms, define them clearly using short, crisp sentences with active verbs. Use examples, analogies and comparisons to clarify your points, making the technical material appear simple. Structure your speech according to a clear, logical outline that flows easily from point to point. Use smooth transitions that connect your points into a logical whole. Don't expect you listeners to draw conclusions; you'll need to make those transitions for them.

One way to help your audience understand your technical subjects is by inviting them to ask questions at any point. Through this you will be able to monitor their feedback of the presentation. Otherwise, you may lose your audience.

4. Gain acceptance. You can say that your goal to inform has been accomplished once you have built understanding. But if you seek to persuade or to stimulate change of behavior or attitude, you must do more. Getting people to accept and believe your viewpoint involves building rapport, credibility and trust. To enhance rapport, you should convince the audience you're like them; self-directed humor, if you can do it, may help. Credibility and trust usually result from who you are--the quality of your credentials. Since it is inappropriate for you to state your qualifications, a good introduction by someone else is vital. Finally, your ideas and reasoning must make sense.

5. Make your message memorable., If you want your listeners to remember what you said, they must understand it. They must be convinced that your subject is important to them. In addition, you can enhance retention by using visuals that illustrate and clarify the information you've presented.

6. Stimulate action. People are most likely to take action if it's specified and feasible. Tell your audience exactly what you want them to do. The action should be relatively easy and available immediately. And, finally, the action you propose should meet their needs.

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Posted on Jan 27, 2011

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Athena Goodlight

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