When it comes to presenting their work, engineers need to be equipped with strong presentation skills to sell themselves and their work. It’s important to know how to present ideas to both internal audiences, like managers or executive teams, as well as external audiences, which may include customers and vendors.
Engineers who are able to communicate their ideas well stand out from their colleagues and the competition, which leads to better results within the organization. By being able to clearly explain their ideas, engineers may also establish a reputation as the go-to-person for future projects.
Ready to start improving your presentation skills? Follow these simple tips.
1. Know Your Audience
To sell anything, you need to know whom you’re selling to. Knowing who you’re selling to is the best way to persuade someone to see your point of view. And whether you’re presenting a product, project update, or new proposal, you’re persuading your audience to do one of several things: buy, invest money or time in your endeavor, invest money and time into you, or care about your idea.
If you assume you already know everything there is to know about your target audience, your presentation is at risk of not being nearly as effective as it could be. Start understanding your audience by keeping these questions in mind:
- How much do they already know about the subject or problem?
- How do they process information? Are they visual learners, or do they prefer listening?
- What are their goals, and how do they intersect with yours?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you will not only be able to better understand their needs, but you will also be able to more clearly explain your position and why it’s the best one.
By getting to know your audience, you will learn valuable information about their goals and how they communicate, which will enhance your ability to convince an audience of a particular course of action.
2. Show Your Competitive Advantage
There may be some similarities between your idea and someone else’s; however, there are likely two or three unique advantages that are unique just to your proposal.
No matter what you’re presenting, chances are your topic, proposal, product or argument has some distinct selling points that differentiate it from other options your audience may have to pick from.
Weave these selling points into your initial conversations with your audience to establish reputation and credibility from the start. Some advantages that your audience may be seeking out include:
- Competitive pricing
- Convenience and speed
- Superior work
- Novel creativity
Your competitive advantage should answer the question: what makes your idea, product or service better than the others? This is also an opportunity for you to personalize your presentation and leave a lasting impression on your audience.
3. Aim for Simplicity
Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Your audiences will likely understand more of your presentation than a six-year-old might; however, it’s still just as important to explain your presentations in simple terms.
While it may come as second nature to use terminology that is associated with CAD, 3D design and printing, and other engineering activities throughout your presentation, it’s important to remember that not everyone in your audience will have the same background as you. As a result, they may end up getting lost and not be able to truly understand the value of the work in front of them.
To avoid this, eliminate any unnecessary content like buzzwords, jargon or confusing industry lingo from your presentation. By communicating clearly and concisely, your message will be received by all members of your audience, regardless of their background.
Similarly, the setup of your presentations should be tidy and sophisticated, and free of distractions. Too many photos, too much text, and errors can distract the audience from what you’re presenting. Make sure your visuals are always of high quality and that your presentation is error-free.
Although technical skills are needed to work successfully in the engineering field, when it comes to presenting their work, engineers need to know their audience, show off their competitive advantages, and keep their presentations simple. By following these tips, audiences will better understand and appreciate the value of their work.