Martin Luther King did not use PowerPoint and neither should you

For some people, it’s reason enough to feel their heart pound in their chest. Presenting to a group can be a nerve-racking experience. But it doesn’t have to be. Mark Robinson, software tester and coming to the end of his second four-year run at ASML through contractor TMC, shared some of his best presentation techniques during a lunch session with ASML engineers.

“If you work at an engineering company, you’ll probably recognize this. You attend a presentation. One person hops on stage, stands in front of a group…and then starts to read slides to the audience. The slides are jam-packed with data. Lots and lots of data. When the presentation ends, you can’t reproduce the key messages. You walk away uninformed and uninspired.

It’s obvious that this doesn’t make any sense. So how can you make sure that your next presentation connects with the audience? The skills to present are possible for anyone to learn — even for people who, like me, are by no means natural presenters. In my presentation to a crowd of ASML engineers, I share two of the best techniques I have learned to keep an audience’s attention: asking questions and telling stories (even in a technical environment). Along the way I explain how PowerPoint can destroy even one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century. And I talk about what Jesus, The Wooden Horse of Troy and The Matrix have to do with presentations. Finally, in the Q&A at the end I answer questions such as: Should you practice a presentation? How can you overcome nerves? What does WII4ME mean and why that is the most important question your presentation needs to answer? Should you speaker’s notes be on screen and if not, where?

Enjoy my session. I hope it helps you make the most out of your presentation!”

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Mark Robinson is a TMC consultant and has worked twice at ASML, both times for four years, in the software cluster. His roles have included software testing, creating a tech wiki, introducing Agile, developing machine configuration management software and most recently creating a ‘health indicator’ for our automated testing environment. He writes articles and speaks at conferences to help others make their software development Lean.

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