Preparation for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® 2024 Design Challenge is currently underway as 105 teams representing 93 collegiate institutions worldwide gear up to compete for the Gold. Scheduled for April 19-21 in Golden, Colorado, the final competition will bring together first-place teams in each division competing for the coveted Grand Winner title. As the premier sponsor of the event, Legence takes pride in supporting and promoting sustainable building solutions.
Powerful Presentations are Paramount
To ensure your project and your forward-thinking team receive the attention they deserve, CMTA Vice President and Mechanical Engineer, Jess Farber, PE, WELL AP, and RE Tech Advisors Director, Freddy Boateng, C.E.M., share valuable insights based on their experiences as Grand Jury Judge and Competition Judge at the 2023 Solar Decathlon Design Challenge.
With over 30 years of industry experience, Jess Farber plays a pivotal role in CMTA’s national Zero Energy/Zero Carbon leadership. Freddy Boateng guides our clients’ ESG strategies, bringing a wealth of sustainability and decarbonization expertise to the judging panel. Together, they contribute to Legence’s mission of accelerating the energy transition of the built environment with healthy and sustainable buildings. Whether you are preparing for the virtual semifinal competition in February or the final in-person competition in April, these expert tips will help you deliver an exceptional presentation.
Straight from the jurors, here are 10 tips for delivering a stellar presentation:
- Start with the “why.” Why does your project matter? Have a compelling and engaging purpose that the audience can connect with.
- Value proposition. Outline the major points you plan to discuss and explain why it’s important for listeners to know. This approach not only sets a clear trajectory for your presentation but also facilitates audience comprehension and reinforces the significance of your project.
- Tell a story. Compelling storytelling is an effective way to communicate the purpose and passion behind your project. Prepare an outline or storyboard of your key talking points, based on your “why” and value proposition. Remember, your story should evolve alongside your project as it develops.
- Know your audience. Develop the presentation by focusing on what listeners need to know rather than what may be most interesting to you. Be sure to explain how your design meets or exceeds the criteria in each contest (see Solar Decathlon 2024 Design Challenge Rules).
- Graphics matter. After developing your story, start outlining your presentation slides. Avoid text-heavy slides and prioritize high-quality graphics, images, and other visual components. This approach will help keep your audience engaged and focused on you, rather than reading the content on your slides.
- Passion and enthusiasm. During your presentation, don't be afraid to showcase your passion and enthusiasm, as this is the culmination of your year-long efforts. Let your genuine excitement for the project shine through to captivate the audience and ensure their engagement.
- Practice, practice, practice. Know your subject matter well—you’re the expert on your project. Time yourself, practice by yourself, and practice with an audience. Avoid reading or reciting a script. Thorough practice will build your confidence and ensure you feel prepared on competition day.
- Body language. How you present your information is just as important for engaging your audience as what you present. Make eye contact, use your arms, and move around. And, most importantly, don’t forget to smile!
- Dress for success. Wear appropriate clothing and present yourself in a professional manner. It not only helps create a positive first impression but also boosts your self-confidence.
- Strong close. Wrap up your presentation and ensure a strong closing by summarizing your key points and demonstrating how you have substantiated your value proposition. The aim is to make a lasting impact on the audience, ensuring they remember you and your message!
Work Hard, Play Hard
Above all else, have fun!
Now that you have put in the hard work of designing your project, it's time to celebrate and share your hard work with others. Regardless of your project's score, the Solar Decathlon 2024 Design Challenge is an incredible event that offers the opportunity to connect with students, industry leaders, and potential employers from around the world.
Let’s make the Solar Decathlon 2024 Design Challenge the best one yet.
Pro Tip: Expand your professional network by connecting with attendees on LinkedIn! Don’t forget to tag Legence on LinkedIn with photos from the event.
Keep these tips in mind to deliver a clear presentation that effectively showcases the innovative design, climate resilience, and community impact of your project. You might even bring home an award—so be prepared to impress and make the most of this amazing opportunity.