Thursday, February 08, 2007

Engineering Presentation Redux

. Thursday, February 08, 2007

I gave my engineering presentation last Monday to a group of 6 high school students. One student was the last one to come into the conference room and sat at the head of the table (the projector screen being at the opposite end). I said, "You realize that if you sit at the head of the table that you have to give the presentation." The kid just said, "Huh?" and had a "what the heck is this guy talking about" look on his face. I told him that I was just trying to be funny.

My first slide had a picture of Dilbert with the title "So You Want To Be an Engineer..." It was accompanied by a snipet of "I've been working on the railroad." I enthusiastically asked, "Who here loves trains as much as I do?" All I got was a bunch of blank stares.

Overall, the presentation went fairly well. I was able to get the students to participate a little when I directly asked for their input. I asked questions like "What do engineers do?" and "Engineers are ~ fill in the blank ~." I also got a couple chuckles with the sound effects such as the toilet flushing, applause, and shrieks of horror. I had typed up some talking points on a separate sheet of paper but didn't end up using them much. I actually found them to be a bit distracting. I find I do better if I just wing it. I feel I have pretty decent public speaking skills, but looking back, I think I needed to slow things down a bit. One reason being the technical nature of the presentation (especially given the audience) and the fact that us Northerners tend to talk faster than Southerners. I tried to simplify things and dumb things down as much as possible, but it's hard to do sometimes with a technical topic like engineering.

At the end of the presentation, I handed out my business cards to the students in case they were too shy to ask questions in front of the others. I left the presentation feeling good about my performance, but felt like I failed to connect with my audience. I got some good feedback from the architect that is coordinating the series of presentations. He said that one student (who hadn't raised his hand when I asked who was interested in engineering) was going to consider engineering as a possible career field.

I think that I'd volunteer to do this again in the future. I'd try to make it less technical and more interactive. Overall, I was glad that I did this.


Anonymous said...

Hey practice makes perfect, right? :)

I give you credit for just even doing it. Good job.