Need to Share Technical Information with a Non-Technical Audience? Here’s how.

Many of Greentown Labs’ member companies are in the “deep technology” space. As in, they’re developing new, complex, hard to replicate and difficult to explain high-technology that has yet to be seen on the market. Building that technology is an enormous challenge in and of itself, talking about the technology isn’t a walk in the park either. Fortunately for our community, The Speech Improvement Company recently gave a presentation on “How to Tell Your Story: Communicating Technical Information to Non-Technical Audiences. Two esteemed Senior Coaches with the company, Dineen Grably and Tori Hollingworth, discussed what constitutes “technical information,” how to structure your communication to maximize the impact of storytelling, and how to employ professional presentation behaviors that reinforce your message.


The topic inspired considerable interest among our community of startups, with representatives from Altaeros Energies, Rise Robotics, Grove Labs, Righthand Robotics, Understory Weather, WrightGrid, CoolChip Technologies, and Spyce crowding around to take notes and ask questions. A discussion on defining  “technical information” kicked off what become a thought-provoking and interactive lunch and learn.

Talking Technical:

“Technical information” encompasses any and all information that you know, but that your listener does or may not. To improve the effectiveness of your story, understand that, “Communication is not about you, it is about the listener.” Consider how you structure your story, argument, or response in a way that addresses your listener’s needs rather than your own.


Organizing the Message:

Identify the appropriate pattern of reasoning to use with your target audience. Employing the Aristotelian concepts of Inductive versus Deductive Reasoning, determine if your communication audience responds best to: providing supporting evidence before articulating your major claim (INDUCTIVE), or rather, a strong declarative statement, followed by supporting evidence (DEDUCTIVE).


*Pro Tip:  When in doubt, or in mixed audiences, start off using an inductive approach. If you notice your listener nodding you along, rapidly agreeing with everything you say, or making interruptions, these behaviors indicate they are eager to get to the main point. It is easier to pivot toward a deductive style from an inductive approach than the reverse.

*Pro Tip: In general, the higher a person is in an organization’s hierarchy, the more responsive they are to deductive reasoning.


*Pro Tip: Pitch Competition

Entrepreneurs often take advantage of Pitch Competitions to practice effectively sharing their startup’s story in five, three or even one-minute increments.

For this rapid-fire scenario, Speech Coach Tori Hollingworth suggested the “Sandwich Approach.”

How To “Sandwich:”

  1. Give your headline, or “Big X,” followed by,
  2. A few key points of supporting evidence, and conclude by
  3. Reinforcing the Big X.

The Sandwich Approach satisfies audiences of inductive or deductive thinkers, by bookending the pitch with parallel declarative claims.


*Pro Tip: Q&A

In the context of a Q&A, panel discussion contribution, or when tabling at conferences, Dineen Gably suggests structuring your response using the “HEC Method”: Headline, Example, Comment.

How To Use the “HEC” Method:

  1. Start with your “Big X” – Declarative Statement/Thesis
  2. Provide an example to give supporting evidence, and
  3. Close with a comment from your personal perspective.

This approach is a reliable tool to use when thinking on your feet.


Projecting a Professional Presence:

How you look and sound can add or detract from the strength of your message.

How You Look

*Pro Tip: Eye contact

  1. Should be varied – About one-sentence per person, with eye contact.
  2. When speaking to a seated audience, employ ‘Face Contact,’ by looking at a person’s forehead. This tool allows you to maintain a professional style without making a person uncomfortable.

*Pro Tip: Purposeful Gesturing

  1. Use clear and specific motions to non-verbally reinforce your message.
  2. Examples: counting on your fingers.


How You Sound

*Pro Tip: Eliminating Vocal Distractions by Embracing Silence

  1. Words such as “um,” “uh,” “er,” and “like” detract from the professionalism and strength of your message. Work on eliminating these words.
  2. Embrace moments of silence during your delivery.
    1. Silence allows for:
      1. Listener to process information naturally.
      2. For transition between topics in a natural segue.
      3. can use silence as a strategic tool to create emphasis with a “pregnant pause”

*Pro Tip: Record and Critique

Before your next pitch, Tori suggested, record yourself on your smartphone to critique your presentation:

  1. Does your body language add to, or detract from, your message?
  2. Can you be more communicative through specific gesturing to reinforce your point?
  3. How do you sound?
    1. Nervous?
    2. Agitated?
    3. Uncertain?
    4. Speaking too quickly or too slowly?


Structure communication with the listener’s needs and knowledge in mind. Assume the listener knows what you know.
Determine Pattern of Reasoning most likely employed by your audience. When in doubt, start with inductive and pivot to deductive as needed. Explain or communicate in a way that makes sense to you, but follows neither pattern of reasoning.
Employ eye contact or face contact (forehead) when addressing an audience. Linger for more than one sentence on one person, or avoid eye contact entirely.
Eliminate vocal distractions. Use “er” “um” “like” or other crutch words.
Embrace silence. Rapidly move from topic to topic without a segue or time for listeners to mentally absorb and digest your message.
Critique your non-verbal communication and the sound of your pitch using available technology. Just wing it.


Our community of engineers and entrepreneurs were feverishly taking notes and asking questions during this high-value Lunch & Learn in mid-September. We are thrilled to be welcoming back The Speech Improvement Company this week, to coach specific companies who will be pitching their startups in a rapid-fire, minute-to-pitch-it session during our upcoming DEMO Day on October 26!


More about The Speech Improvement Company:

The Speech Improvement Company (TSIC) is the first speech and communication firm established in the U.S. Since 1964, we have dedicated our careers to helping men and women in the art and science of communication. We are professional speech coaches. We help leaders and managers become comfortable, effective communicators. More specifically, we provide consulting, group training, public workshops, and individualized coaching. We specialize in identifying communication strengths, areas of need and strategies for improvement.  Then we coach and train people to develop strong communication skills. Topics of expertise are varied and include virtually every aspect of human interaction. For over 50 years, we’ve helped Leaders, Executives, Managers, Politicians, Celebrities, and Individuals all over the world. We have focused in areas such as management and leadership communication, formal public speaking, mechanics of speech, fear of speaking, sales communication, customer service, communication strategy, and many more.