Anyone who’s in my MSIS track will readily admit that I have no problem tossing in my $0.02 in general discussion. I think that I’m a decent “presenter”, as well (although like everyone else I do have some weak areas that I’m working on improving.)
I *do* know that a great many of those in the IT field qualify as marginal-to-poor public speakers… and in particular, the ability to give a well thought out and compelling presentation is decidedly rare. In case you’ve been sequestered in an Ivory Tower for your lifetime, let me gently inform you that merit is not everything. This is a real problem in my field, because like it or not, the ability to communicate an idea via a formal presentation is critical in the way organizations do business. If you can’t make a good presentation, your idea is going to go down the tubes.
Tips for IT folks who want to develop this skill: First, watch An Inconvenient Truth. Don’t watch it for the content (compelling though it is), watch it for the presentation. Al Gore does a tremendous job of balancing raw data and information without sacrificing audience connection. Charts and graphs are naturally boring unless you’re a math geek or an accountant, but Al’s presentation of charts and graphs in the film is masterly. Then read this post. Also this post, if you’re presenting to an action committee (as opposed to a conference) – Rand’s classifications of meeting-attendees archtypes isn’t perfect, but the idea is to get you thinking about your audience.