What is the best approach when presenting to a technical audience?
Those who work in technical industries, such as finance, engineering and tech tend to value concrete information more than anything else. And they often need factual evidence – numbers and data – to believe what you're saying.
On the other hand, if we look at non-technical presentations, such as marketing presentations, they often include engaging stories and anecdotes that reach the emotional channel of the listener. And this is fine in general. However, too many emotions, too many stories and even too many design elements might be perceived as fluffy by a technical audience.
What’s the solution then for presenting to a technical audience?
The solution is not to eliminate the emotional part altogether, but to moderate it.
In this context, it’s useful to remember what Aristotle taught us. He said that if we want to persuade and convince people about something, we have to use three types of arguments:
- Ethos: the ethical appeal – the credibility or character of the speaker
- Pathos: the emotional appeal – an argument must be appealing to the emotions of the audience
- Logos: the appeal to logic – an argument should also be appealing from a logical perspective
In the best arguments – and also in the best presentations – we find all three elements. However, that doesn’t mean that ethos, pathos and logos should play the same role within a presentation. If you want to make a presentation appealing to a technical audience, it may be more appropriate to focus more on the logical side, but without completely eliminating the emotional part.
You can make a presentation full of hard facts, numbers and data, and then occasionally give a splash of emotional elements. For example, by showing a shocking statistic, or by sharing an engaging anecdote or an interesting story which is linked to the data you’re showing.
This way, your presentation will be mostly based on factual aspects, but you can also include some emotional elements that help the audience not only to understand something but also to feel something.