If you want to have a successful career or start your own business, you should master the art of giving good presentations. Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim is well aware of this. The chemist works as a lecturer in science communication and helps scientists to better communicate their work. She is also an active YouTuber and has already produced many videos for various channels and broadcasters.
Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim: "My work is a lot of fun, but at the same time it is a great challenge. Because the paradox of science communication is: the simpler, the more difficult. The simpler I want to communicate complex scientific issues, the more complicated it is for me to communicate them in a way that is understandable but still scientifically correct."
Thanks to her work on YouTube, the expert has learned some aspects that are helpful for her science communication. And it is precisely these aspects that can be wonderfully transferred to other areas of communication. That's why Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim tells you in this magazine article how you too can give a really good talk. Are you ready? Then let's get started!
Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim: "A question of perspective"
Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim knows that lectures that are both educational and entertaining are a rarity: "If you want to inspire the masses, you don't have it quite so easy with a chemistry lecture. If the audience isn't completely confused afterwards, then that was okay. But if I can make a chemistry lecture better with the help of YouTube, then you can certainly use that for yourself and your lectures - regardless of the field. Because a good lecture is one thing above all: a question of perspective."
According to the expert, there are two speaking perspectives: "The first perspective says that the audience is the king. The speaker's job is to serve the audience. The second perspective is more common: When the speaker gives the talk, it is first about him. It's about his work and what he has to say. That's understandable, but three big mistakes often result from this perspective." To help you avoid making the same mistake, we've summarized the three biggest speaking fallacies for you:
Misconception 1: You need more time
Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim knows, "Time is something delightfully subjective. And if you plot the time of a lecture against the boredom of the audience, you usually get a linear relationship." Freely according to the motto: the longer the lecture, the greater the boredom. From the presenter's point of view, however, time often passes far too quickly. Perhaps it has even been a challenge for you to stick to the time limit of a presentation?
Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim: "In truth, however, it is a mistake to need more time. The audience doesn't have time." This can be nicely explained with an example from YouTube: "On YouTube, commercials run before the videos, which you can skip after five seconds. If you've ever done that, you know how long five seconds can feel. So a YouTuber is fully aware of how impatient the viewer is."
In real life, we may be a little more patient than online. But no matter how good a lecture is, even in Real Life, attention is limited. Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim finds, "18 minutes, for example, is a good limit for a lecture in a face-to-face class." So basically, keep lectures as short as possible" Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Ki: "Unfortunately, many scientists still like to resort to information density increase: they pack quite a lot of info into a short time and then talk twice as fast as usual." Please don't do that! Because this approach leads directly to fallacy number two.
Misconception 2: People listen to you
Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim knows: "On YouTube, viewers are constantly shown alternative programs that may be even more amusing or interesting. This means that if I lose the viewer's attention even for a moment, they're gone and watching another video." In a lecture, on the other hand, we take the audience for granted. A big mistake. Because just because the audience can't just click away from the lecture in real life, that doesn't mean they're listening.
Quite the opposite: many audience members get distracted and think about something completely different during the lecture. Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim: "That's why it's a good idea to briefly point out at the beginning what the content is going to be about in the first place." Increase the tension right at the beginning so that your audience is captivated from the first second. For example, start your talk with a powerful image, a video, a personal anecdote or an interaction with the audience. Because before you explain what it's all about, you should first try to get their attention.
Misconception 3: It's about you
Put yourself in the perspective of your audience. At the same time, be clear about why you are standing there and what you want to say. Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim: "The moment you stand in front of the audience, your main goal should be to serve the audience appropriately. After all, you want the audience to take something away from it for themselves."
To do this, ask yourself what you want from your audience. Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim: "With YouTube videos, you often want to get call-to-actions. For example, you want viewers to leave a like, comment, or subscribe." Even in real life, it always pays to define and express the goal of your talk very clearly again. Whatever it is, speak directly to your audience and be specific about what you want.
Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim: "Create a Checklist for a good presentation"
So, thanks to Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim, we can transfer the following three aspects from YouTube to any lecture:
- Don't keep the presentation longer than necessary: time is always guaranteed to pass slower for the audience than for yourself.
- Earn your audience's attention: always imagine that they could click away from you at any time.
- Use call-to-actions and call to action: What do you want from the audience? Express it very clearly.
The expert knows: "The bottom line is that this is the best basis for good communication. If you keep that in mind, there's not much that can go wrong in your next presentations." Now it's your turn!