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Most audiences contain people of varying familiarity with your specialty. Should the speaker generalize the talk so everyone can understand? If so, you might lose people who can best comment on your work. Conversely, if you gear the talk to the specialists, you may lose a sizable part of your audience.

Obviously the speaker needs to first decide who they care about, but it is possible to at least broaden the range of audiences that might get something out of your talk. Quite simply, the story and structure should be make accessible even if the details and methods are not. Figure out the least expert type of person you want to communicate with and be sure that your overarching question and outline are comprehensible to that individual. It's OK if they can't comprehend a few of the slides that provide supporting data, just take a few seconds and try to summarize their meaning for the bigger picture.

There are limitations. A methodological talk on quantum electrodynamics probably cannot be made comprehensible to an English major. However you can broaden the target audience by learning to deliver you overall message in a simple manner to the least expert person you care about reaching.

I always have enjoyed getting the comment "great job" after a presentation that I didn't think went very well. It made me feel better for the moment. The trouble is that we are all easily lulled into self deception. Most people just want to be nice, but those presentations were probably pretty bad.

Everyone needs to dry run their presentation with tough and honest critics. It is almost impossible to develop a comprehensible presentation without trying it out on someone who tells you the parts they didn't understand.

A few years back I was part of a team working on a major scientific proposal to a donor. The project leader was a distinguished scientist who was aghast at my suggestion that he dry run the proposal. "I've done hundreds of presentations," he said. Of course he probably got "great job" after those "hundreds" from people trying harder to be nice than honest. Needless to say, the donor presentation bombed.

Take your medicine early and often, then you can feel better about a compliment.

Everyone thinks they like colorful slides, but the presentation creator needs to use color with discipline. The primary role of color is to highlight the differences in types of information. You may want to color one line of a text slide in red because you want to emphasize that point over all others. You may want to use different color bars on a bar graph to distinguish between the categories. Every color should have a purpose. It might be a minor point, but there should be a reason.

Don't decorate!!! Remember added bells and whistles divert the audience from the message your slide is meant to convey.

Below is a powerful use of color. The chart shows that the Ecology Division of the Mud Green Slime Production company doesn't share the Mud Green values. In fact the Ecology Division shares the environmental values of the outside environmental regulators that monitor the company's environmental performance . The slide also shows that the key to better environmental compliance is to "mix the shades of green," that is give the environmental office some training in "mud green" culture and give the other offices some environmental training.

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