By Laura Bruce
Over your career, you develop expertise. But is your expertise recognized? You won’t gain the recognition you deserve until you demonstrate what you know in a compelling way. One of the best vehicles is an impressive presentation where you communicate your knowledge.
Creating Your Content
After years of hard work, your industry knowledge is both deep, and wide. Start by choosing a narrow slice within your broad topic. By going deep and avoiding generalities, you’ll be forced to be specific and give your audience value.
If you’ve got an intriguing topic, you’ll have an advantage. An audience that is intrigued by your topic is a receptive one.
As Dr. Stephen Covey advises in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “start with the end in mind.” Identify three main points you want your audience to know about and remember.
Sketch these out on paper. You may like to use a graphic organizer such as a MindMap. Then add three or more interesting or important aspects of each of your three main points. Is there a story you can tell to illustrate your point? Add these to bring your points to life.
Avoid trying to communicate too much information. If your topic is technical, only the most enthusiastic will be able to sustain their attention for more than a few minutes. So, be succinct and only include essential detail.
Translate your sketch into a written presentation. Structure it into your three main points. Add a beginning and a conclusion.
Now it all depends on your delivery.
Delivering Your Presentation
To really stand out, you’ll need more than just your great presentation content: you’ll have to deliver it with aplomb.
The most important part of being comfortable on stage is to be prepared. There really is no substitute for knowing your material inside and out. So practice your presentation.
Start by reading it aloud. Are parts too wordy? One of the most common mistakes rookie speakers make is to use over-long sentences. These can create mechanical problems that may make you think you are anxious. Did you know that speaking sentences that are too long can leave you breathless – literally? Shorten them and you’ll eliminate the risk of needless strain. You will also sound more conversational.
Knowing your audience is helpful. It enables you to use the language they will understand, and perhaps even make a joke or two.
If I’m doing an important presentation, I like to record it and listen to it a number of times. I will play it back while I am driving, and speak along to the recording. I make a fresh recording as I get better. Recording helps me, for example, gain a better handle on where to put the emphasis in each sentence.
Reviewing Your Performance
Get up on stage, and give them a big smile. It will relax you! Video your speech or presentation, if possible, so you can review it later. You’ll be able to objectively assess your presentation on screen in a way you’re simply not able to in the moment. Like any expert do a review. You will see and hear what you did well and you can take note of what you want to improve. Every presentation you do will get better and you’ll effectively showcase your hard-won expertise.
Laura Bruce is from Toastmasters International a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization’s membership exceeds 345,000 in more than 15,900 clubs in 142 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are more than 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7,500 members. To find your local club, visit Toastmasters International. You can follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.