After the analysis is complete, it is time to present the results. The goal in any case is to persuade the audience using evidence. Your audience can be a judge, jury, or a group of managers meeting in a conference room. Your goal is to use the evidence you have collected to prove one or more facts. Even with great evidence, the success of a case often depends on the effectiveness of the presentation.
This section covers some of the basic ideas to remember when presenting evidence. The ideas are simple and common to many presentations. Although they are simple, they are important and bear repeating.
Before presenting any topic, you should get to know as much about your audience as possible. Know why they are willing to listen to you and what they expect to take from your presentation. A group of Information Services (IS) managers will have different expectations and motivations from a jury in a criminal trial. The more you know about them, the better you can prepare to deliver a convincing presentation.
When possible, find out who will be in your audience. If you are presenting evidence in a court of law, you will know who the judge and jury will be. You will also know quite a lot about the judge and the jurors. It may take more work to find out about your audience when presenting to other groups. Try to get as much basic demographic information about the audience participants as possible.
For example, if you find that you are presenting to a group of IS managers, your presentation will probably be different than if you were speaking to a group of auditors . Although the content will be the same, the tone and presentation style may be different. The more successful you are at knowing and understanding the needs of your audience, the better your presentation will be accepted.
Another common presentation venue is the trade show or convention. You may be asked to present the findings from an actual case you have worked on. In this type of setting, there is a better chance that the audience will be more IS literate and technically minded. Organize your presentation to interest your particular audience. Take the time to do your homework, and develop the ability to speak to the needs and interests of your audience
After you begin your presentation, pay attention to the response you receive from the audience. Sometimes you will see the rapt attention in their eyes as they hang on every word of your descriptions of the evidence. The other 98 percent of the time, though, the response is likely to be blank stares of mild interest. Seriously though, always watch for signs of boredom. When you do see the blank stares and fidgeting, change your pace, your tone, or even your approach. Remember that it is hard to bore someone into believing you.
Far too many presenters ignore their audience. They might have a canned presentation, and they deliver it the same way regardless of the audience. You can't do that and be successful as a computer forensics examiner . You may or may not be called upon to present the evidence you uncovered. You should be prepared nonetheless. Skilled presenters aren't necessarily less boring than anyone else- they simply know how to detect boredom early on and what to do about it. Many fine texts cover presentation techniques. Browse a few of them to get some ideas on getting the point across.
Presenting facts is quite simple. Follow these basic steps:
Tell what you did.
Tell why you did it.
Tell how you did it.
Tell what you found.
Think about what you would want to hear if you were in the audience. The facts remain the same, but the delivery approach can change to appeal to each audience. For example, technical audiences like facts and 'how-to' types of information. Managers tend to like higher-level presentations. For a group of managers, skip the gory details and talk more about the big picture. Although you are focusing on big picture topics, be prepared to answer detailed questions if they arise.
Speaking and presentation books cover far more on reading an audience. Remember that boring someone does little more than bore them. A persuasive argument is rarely boring. Watch the audience and react to them. You will connect more and have a better chance of getting them to seriously consider the points you present.
When planning a presentation, write an outline of the points you want to make. Always start with an outline, no matter how rough. Use the evidence and the process to collect it to support or explain your points. A random list of evidence will likely leave the audience more confused than convinced.
Take the time to list each point you want to make and then expand the point with evidence. The core of your presentation is the evidence, so your evidence should dictate the flow of the presentation. Your points should specifically address each piece or type of evidence, and your evidence should support each point in the presentation. Although the relationship between presentation points and evidence seems circular, the actual points should be the target of your initial outline.
Add to your initial outline until you have a structure that brings out all of the evidence you choose to present. The next section discusses the organization of a presentation. But don't worry about organization until you are confident that you are able to address each of the important points in your presentation.
Your points can be either generic or specific to a particular case. A generic outline might look like this:
Initial site survey
Evidence handling and storage
Initial site analysis
Your initial outline should reflect your own style and comfort level. The important point is to ensure that your presentation is clear and concise . Spend your audience's time wisely; don't waste it. Include all the information you need to and nothing more.
Start with a simple outline. You don't have to produce the final product in one sitting. You might be far more productive when you get something into an outline, and then go back over the material to edit it. Getting a memory dump into an outline makes sure you don't overlook crucial ideas while wrestling with the details.
After you have an outline and a general flow, you need to consider how to organize the presentation. Although each presentation is different, you can use a few common rules of thumb. First, use a presentation method you are comfortable with. If you are most comfortable drawing pictures as you go, set up a white board and dispense with the PowerPoint presentation. If you do use PowerPoint, plan for about 30 slides each hour . This guideline works well for general presentations. If you feel you need to spend more time on one topic, consider creating multiple slides for that topic. If you spend too much time on a single slide, it can become stale, and you risk losing your audience's attention.
Use what works best for your personality. Remember that the main purpose for your presentation is to present evidence you believe proves one or more facts in a case. Take the audience on a tour through the evidence trail that leads them to a conclusion as to what happened that resulted in this case. Sometimes the presentation should take a chronological approach. At other times, a topical approach keeps consistency and cohesion.
Don't get locked in to a particular type of presentation organization. Think through what you want your audience to take away from your presentation. Use the flow and organization that makes sense to you and that leads the audience where you want them to go.
The outline approach works best for us. Whether we are writing a report or developing a presentation, we always work from an outline. As the outline grows and matures, we expand the content into the final format. For presentations, we frequently use PowerPoint. We generally move from an outline to PowerPoint only when we have each slide listed and the major points for each slide. Experiment and find a method that works well for your style.
Above all else, use the KISS method when presenting technical information to others (even other technical people). The KISS method stands for 'Keep It Simple, Stupid.' It's a silly reminder to us all that complexity breeds confusion. Part of the challenge in any presentation of evidence is to make the complex seem simple. Always use the simplest techniques you can think of to present evidence.
KISS stands for 'Keep It Simple, Stupid' and is an acronym that reminds us to avoid making things overly complex.
Whenever possible, use visual aids. The common saying, 'a picture is worth a thousand words,' is truer today than ever. Humans process visual images far more efficiently than written words. Whenever you can use a picture, drawing, or chart to convey a concept with just few words, use it. The audience will remember a picture far longer than any words you use to describe it. Use pictures of the crime scene. If your audience is nontechnical, use a picture of a disk drive to explain the process of searching for hidden files. Always look for opportunities to simplify the presentation.
Another decision you will need to make when planning a presentation is how much technology you should use. Multimedia presentations with video and sound can be impressive, but they can also be distracting. Use technical props when they simplify the presentation, not to impress the audience. Although some presenters use technology to add pizzazz to a presentation, it can come across as showy. In such cases, the added technical features do not add to the substance of the presentation. So, use technology when it adds to the audience's understanding. Don't use it when it just adds complexity. A simple presentation allows the audience to concentrate on the evidence. Always remember to consider your audience as you develop your presentation. Don't make it too complex. Keep it simple.