Speaking to non-technical people about complex topics is not always easy. Thirteen hydrogeologists from the Department of Water set themselves the tough challenge of telling the rest of the organisation about their work at a two-day inhouse conference.
Their goal: to prepare presentations that were engaging and meaningful for the non-technical people in the department.
Rachael used movement and play to help these hydrogeologists deliver meaningful, memorable presentations.
Improv for technical people: presentation skills for engineers and scientists
Once a year the Department of Water gives its employees the chance to learn just what the technical staff in the organisation do. Hydrogeologists and engineers share what they know about creating healthy water systems in Western Australia with employees in other departments over a two day conference.
Rachael’s workshop included improvisation and play to help the hydrogeologists put themselves into the shoes of their audience. They used story telling and props to simplify their language, tell their story more creatively and target their message. They also worked on body language, eye contact and rhythm.
Hydrogeologists learn to entertain their audience and have a bigger impact
The hydrogeologists said it was really valuable to think about what their audience wants to hear and to learn about posture and body language. They said:
“This workshop will help you with confidence in speaking and will help make your talk more engaging and enjoyable for both audience and presenter.”
“You’ll learn to be okay with your own style of presenting. Nerves are OK!”
“Most valuable for me today was developing character techniques to assist in presenting and facilitating. As a result of today I will be adding stories and analogies to assist with entertaining the audience and explaining my topics better.”
Participants in the workshop also appreciated the opportunity to work in small groups on the non-technical aspects to their talk.
A couple of hydrogeologists admitted that they hadn’t really wanted to come along to the workshop, and were initially bemused by the idea of playing, but were really glad they had made it.
Small things make a big difference when you want to get a message across
Each hydrogeologist chose one thing they learnt in the workshop to focus on during their conference presentation. For some it was to focus on posture and not reading from notes. Others wanted to slow down and be aware of being clear.
And, with these small but important things in place, the conference co-ordinator reported that even with nerves, all of the speakers had indeeed been engaging and meaningful.
Engaging, meaningful presentations – a workshop especially for technical people explores what it means to be engaging, meaningful and memorable when speaking to an audience. Participants work on body language and physical presence; adapting words and content to an audience; and tricks and tips for creating memorable presentations. It is particularly suited to engineers, scientists and other technically-trained professions.