Making Presentations That Are Remembered

by Steven Cerri on July 14, 2016

Recently I read a post that said that the real goal of a presentation is “Be remembered”.

I couldn’t disagree more.

The last time you attended a presentation in which you were supposed to remember what was presented was in school. School was the last place where you were required to remember what the instructor said and then be able to recall it. School is not work.

As far as I can tell, there are only three outcomes that really matter for giving a presentation:

1.  To learn something. This is the school situation in which you were required to remember something.  However, even then you didn’t have to remember it from the professor’s presentation, you could remember it by studying the textbook. This is seldom the purpose of a technical presentation, however, to be fair, it does happen once in a while.

2.  To entertain, like watching TV or attending a play or movie.  This is generally not a part of a work presentation, although making a presentation enjoyable is useful to achieving outcome number 3 below.

3.  To influence the audience to accept an idea or intellectual or operational position! As far as I am concerned, this is your only purpose for giving a technical presentation.

The purpose of 99% of the presentations at work, including technical presentations, is to “influence the audience”. And influence does not require being remembered. In fact, communication experts and neuroscientists will tell you that not being remembered is often a better path to influence.

The better path to influence is for people to adopt your ideas, the ideas you present in your presentation, as their own. Rather than having your presentation remembered, you want your audience to take personal ownership of your ideas, and this happens in the presentation or soon after and not because the information is remembered but because the information is absorbed at an unconscious level.  (Watch the movie “Inception” and you’ll get the idea.)

So when you begin to understand that flashy PowerPoint slides, moving graphics, and all sorts of “extras” don’t really help you achieve your outcome of influence, you have to ask the next questions: If my presentation is not about being remembered, and if my presentation is about achieving influence over my audience, how do I accomplish that outcome? And how do I control my presentation and continue the influence process when the audience becomes difficult?

Here are the questions I think need to be answered when preparing any technical presentation:

1.      How do I decide the ultimate influencing purpose of my presentation?
2.      How do I decide what to include and what to leave out (unless my manager tells me exactly what to include)?
3.      How do I develop the influencing theme for my presentation?
4.      How do I develop the charts?
5.      How do I tell my influencing story?
6.      How to I open my presentation to send the control parameters so I can keep control?
7.      What happens when someone in the audience tries to take control of my presentation?
8.      How do I keep control when a high-level manager in the audience wants to control my presentation process?
9.      How do I end my presentation so my influence is intact?
10.    How do I know my influence has worked?
11.     What is next after the end of my presentation?

I’m developing a program that will answer all these questions.  If you are interested stay tuned or check out

Be well,


{ 1 comment }

How Neurological Levels Can Affect Your Career

February 18, 2015

A while ago I had an experience that has direct application to technical management and especially technical management for women. (Certain information and aspects of the event have been changed, but the message is the same.) I was having a conversation with a woman who had retired from technical program management a while ago. (There […]

Read the full article →

Does Moore’s Law Apply To Your Career?

August 13, 2014

Moore’s Law is an empirical observation that simply states: “The number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years”. This empirical law is named after Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation, who described the trend in his 1965 paper. (From Wikipedia) Moore’s law means, from a electronic chip perspective, that […]

Read the full article →

How to Delegate

October 22, 2013

Here we go again. There seem to be endless discussions about “delegation”. Over and over again the same answer is given regarding how one should go about learning to delegate. And over and over, the advice seems less than adequate. The most recent article I read was on the TechRepublic website and it discussed delegation […]

Read the full article →

Leadership vs Management: and the winner is!

March 15, 2013

Everyone wants to be a leader. Current articles praise the leader in all of us while at the same time designating leadership a mystical quality possessed by a few select individuals. Leaders are often said to be inspirational. But while many people define the distinguishing characteristic of a leader as “the ability to inspire” most […]

Read the full article →

A Conversation With Millennials

April 8, 2012

What Is the Difference? There is no doubt that there is a difference between “young people today” compared to their older colleagues. “Young people seem to want everything right now! They don’t seem to want to pay their dues or wait their turn.” “Why, when I was their age I appreciated when I was given […]

Read the full article →

ASME Annual Awards Dinner

April 25, 2011

ASME Dinner Last week I attended the annual awards dinner sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley Section of the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers).   It was a great event and hats off to everyone who made it happen. Dr. Robert J. Moffat Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University was the recipient […]

Read the full article →

#95 The Air Traffic Controllers Were Not Managed!

April 18, 2011

Hello everyone, I think that the “air-traffic-controllers-asleep” issue has some interesting lessons for us in the area of management. Here is what I mean. One of the workshops I conduct includes a section devoted to the topic of “how to develop your team culture”. That is, what can a manager do to develop and propagate […]

Read the full article →

#94 Why Everyone Wants To Be A Leader

April 15, 2011

Hello everyone, I’m always amazed at how much people love the word “leader”. Everywhere I read (only a slight exaggeration) I find references to this person is a leader, that person is a leader, everyone is a leader. Leadership doesn’t even seem to be a function of experience. Someone right out of college can be […]

Read the full article →

#93 Motorcycles Should Make You Nervous

August 3, 2010

“Just ride” Hello everyone! That’s right! Motorcycles should make you nervous. I have always liked motorcycles although I’ve never owned one. I have ridden motorcycles belonging to my friends; mostly in college. For me, riding a motorcycle has always been accompanied by a feeling of excitement and apprehension. I remember that first ride. I was […]

Read the full article →

#92 Jethro Tull and the Engineer’s Mind

July 28, 2010

Emotions of Music versus Work Hello everyone! Recently I rented a DVD of Jethro Tull in concert live at Montreux, Switzerland in 2003. For those of you who lived through the rock and roll era of the 1970s the name Jethro Tull probably brings back a flood of memories as it does for me. While […]

Read the full article →

#91 Descent Into Leadership

July 22, 2010

Hello everyone! I know, everyone wants to be a leader. No one wants to be a manager… right? Management has no glory but leaders are the heroes. I’ve heard it all before. Business magazines tout the virtues of leadership and praise the leaders and say little about the managers who toil at their craft. I […]

Read the full article →

#90 How Do You Manage?

September 10, 2009

Do you manage for the sprint, or the marathon? Hello everyone! Do you manage for the sprint?…or …. Do you manage for the marathon?… or … Do you manage for the race? What is a sprint? Imagine a Summer Olympics bicycle sprint race around a track. The racers are poised on their bikes. Their leg […]

Read the full article →