I think that I am pretty good at presenting my work during my PhD, and I am still being invited to conferences for some papers I did 2 years ago.

Now, I am working in industry. My manager always complains about my presentations and my reports.

I tried my best to follow his guidelines, but still he does not understand my presentations.

What might be the expectations in industry different than academia in terms of presenting some work?

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    ... that is, your remark that you are "excellent at presenting work I did in my PhD" has to be taken in a very qualified way: for certain_audiences, perhaps this is so. Apparently not for all. Also, statistically, many novices' notion of "excellent presentation" is fairly unrelated to more-expert, more-jaded, more-sophisticated notions of that. Different people desire different things at different times in their trajectories. – paul garrett Dec 6 '17 at 0:51
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    There are two problems with this question. One, you seem to ask the wrong people. Workplace SE seems to be a better site because your problem is industry workplace related. Two, My manager always complains about my presentations and my reports.. You need to clarify what are his major complaints. Without knowing the complaints, how do you expect people to help you to address them? – scaaahu Dec 6 '17 at 5:46
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    You need to tell your managers what they want to know, rather than what you want to tell them. – user2768 Dec 6 '17 at 8:56
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    From your pseudo I'll take that you are a physicist. Is your manager a physicist too ? Because, as paul garrett pointed out, the audience type is important. Do you present to other colleague or just your manager ? In the former case, do your colleagues share your manager opinion ? Additionally, being invited to a conference is more likely linked to your research quality than your presentation skill. I have seen terrible presentation from highly ranked scientists... – EigenDavid Dec 6 '17 at 11:28
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    @paulgarrett I'd be happy to answer this question if it weren't on hold. I do think this is the right forum for it. – Elizabeth Henning Dec 10 '17 at 0:50

The comments above are correct--you're probably pitching to the wrong audience, and your presentation skills are probably not as good as you think they are. To put it undiplomatically, the great majority of (STEM) presentations in academia are horrible, but after a half-decade or so of grad school you become inured to this and recalibrate your expectations. You've probably noticed that a genuinely engaging and accessible academic presentation is often judged to be less deep and interesting than an incomprehensible one. This is not going to be the case in a business environment.

The key difference is that the focus in a business presentation is on utility: You're not just trying to convey information, you're trying to be useful to your team and to the company. What are the people in your audience going to do with the content of your presentation when it's over? They want usable information, and they want it quickly and efficiently. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Include a "30,000-foot view" and (metaphorically) keep it in sight throughout the presentation.
  • Keep the narrative of your information focused. That is, make sure it's clear why each piece of information is relevant to whatever point you're trying to make.
  • Leave detailed background explanations to follow-up questions.
  • Be parsimonious and efficient in your flow of information. Pictures are generally better than words.

I'm assuming you're in a role where you process and produce data, so that your reports and presentations are informative rather than persuasive. But many of the same principles would apply if you are trying to convince your audience of something.

A final remark: People who give business presentations practice them. You probably have access to tech for recording a video of yourself, or at least a screencast with audio of your presentation. Use it.

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    "great majority of (STEM) presentations in academia are horrible" this is so TRUE, I wonder if there is any research about this. – SSimon Dec 11 '17 at 9:36

I don't know what is your employer feedback to the presentation but in general, one thing that I noticed that in academia we tend to emphasize methodology for about 10 slides, and in the industry, they only have one slide of the method and 10 slides of results and implication of results aka. discussion.

If I were in your position, I would use the narrative language of a TED talk. Why this format? because this form is most suitable for the wide audience. I assume that your boss and people in your collective are from various background.

We need more info about your current job, what industry is and who are your co-workers professionally. But if you are people from different backgrounds, you need to find a common denominator for all of you, so your ppt can be clearly understandable to the wide audience.

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