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A Guide to Delivering the Most Engaging Presentation

The ability to present is particularly key when developing a career in cybersecurity. Be it speaking to an audience at an industry conference, online over a webinar channel or in front of your own management, it’s good to know a winning strategy.

Enter the concept of DOVEC, developed by Vicki Gavin, head of business continuity and information security for The Economist Group, who brought experience of both a career in cybersecurity and a post graduate diploma in educating adults to the concept. Talking to Infosecurity, Gavin said that the concept of DOVEC was “an easy formula and a way to communicate”, and a way to be as effective as you can in presenting to an audience.

“In cybersecurity and technology, the vast majority of people presenting have no idea how to communicate and so rather than try to teach people how to try and identify a phishing threat, they talk about how to save the world in 27,000 easy steps. People can’t take in that kind of knowledge.” Adding that there are never too many things to learn, it’s about how you present them, Gavin ran through the five components of DOVEC. 

D – Desirable

Gavin said that adults will only learn things they want to learn, and you cannot expect them to “memorize these facts” and expect them to remember them, so when you communicate to someone understand what is in it for them. Understand the concept of “you want to listen to me because…”

O – One Focus

“It doesn’t matter what age you are, you cannot absorb multiple things – focusing on a computer, TV and radio at the same time is not doing things effectively”, said Gavin. When delivering information you have to do it one point at a time, and be cautious about making more than one point. “If your goal is to get the board to fund a project you want to say ‘fund my project’ from beginning to end: focus on what you want people to take away.”

V – Vary the Method

People learn in different ways, but the simplest theory is some like to hear it, some like to see it and some prefer to touch it, but if you can offer an experience to provide all three you’ll appeal to the majority.

E - Engaging

Gavin said that when you’re actively involved you remember more, so when presenting, ask for a show of hands and “bring them into the room; as soon as they are actively involved, they will pick it up more.” With a slide presentation, have a picture people like or laugh at, it doesn’t matter if it relates to what you are talking about - Gavin referred to images of Mike Tyson and an Economist cartoon. “Everyone has learned it and the level of ego in assuming other people can’t learn it is ridiculous, it’s not about the employee not being able to learn it, it’s about the IT manager not teaching it.”

C – Compelling

Finally, a bit of drama or theater is worth adding, as people like to be entertained. “Standing in front of a room with text on a slide and droning on does not entertain anyone, reading an academic text is not entertaining and for people to absorb you’ve got to entertain.” How can this be done? Gavin said that in front of someone you can use hands to make expressions, and on webinars she would routinely use expressions and terms like ‘as my grandmother used to say’. “Adding a little bit of color will help to embed stuff in people’s memory.”

Gavin said that by following these rules you can end up with something that is reasonably educationally sound. “Using DOVEC is a very simple little process to follow - without spending a huge amount of time on it - to end up with something more effective.”

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