Informing with Interest
“I want you to discuss our 2Q performance in no more than four slides.”
That was the directive given to a client preparing for an upcoming project review. In business, subject matter experts are repeatedly asked to deliver these types of presentations. How well they deliver them is a different matter.
Presentation Profiling® gives you a framework to choose from three profiles—Expert, Interpreter, or Catalyst—for your presentation. Once you choose the profile needed, Presentation Profiling helps you understand the specific skills you need to activate in order to be successful. In this case, it’s time to pull out the Expert profile.
When to use the Expert profile
When you’ve been asked to share information about a topic that you live and breathe every day and listeners simply need to understand it, you may find the Expert profile is ideal. Review the following characteristics of the Expert and consider how your presentation opportunity compares.
Goal: An Expert’s goal is to INFORM, efficiently communicating facts and sharing knowledge about a given subject. They are often selected to give the presentation due to their deep expertise. Experts are invested in ensuring their audience understands what’s being presented, not necessarily in what the audience does with the information.
Expert presentations tend to be data-driven and include these types of situations:
- Internal reports or project status meetings
- Poster presentations at industry events
- Financial, medical, engineering, and scientific presentations
But Expert presentations must offer more than a written report can!
Audience: In an ideal environment, Experts present to others in their field who are familiar with industry-specific concepts, terms, and references. This is not always the case, however, so Experts must learn to appeal to listeners with varying levels of interest and understanding. This means getting to know their audience in advance.
Message: For an audience interested in “just the facts,” the Expert’s message is based on data, detail, and logic. Because the Expert has a specific job to do, the focus is on efficiency and accuracy. Experts strive to finesse their information to present it with clarity as well as enthusiasm, avoiding trivial detail that distracts the audience. Often Experts feel compelled to share everything they know, in a misguided effort to boost their credibility. The audience doesn’t need or want to know everything; content should be curated carefully.
Skills to be an effective Expert
Using Professionally Speaking’s C.O.D.E.® process as a guide, build these critical skills to be an effective Expert:
Clarify your content. As the Expert, you’ve got it all in your head. The trick is to use critical thinking skills to determine how much and precisely what your audience needs to know. If you do a data dump, you run the risk of overwhelming your listeners with too much information. Instead, focus on a single core takeaway message that captures the essence of the presentation. To craft it, in 10 words or less answer the question: What does my audience absolutely need to know?
Organize your information. Since the Expert approach depends on logic, begin with your core message and identify two to five main points. Then provide evidence for these key points. Continue to refine your presentation by eliminating unnecessary detail and anything that distracts from the core message. To help carve away unnecessary information, as you review your specifics, ask yourself, “So what?” and “What do my listeners absolutely need to know?”
Develop your media. When you address a business or scientific audience, you will likely be expected to present with a slide deck, which sometimes serves as both a visual aid and a takeaway reference document. All too often, slide decks include too much information. Don’t fall into that trap!
Here’s how you can tighten up your slides:
- Use text no smaller than 30-point type.
- Edit out all unnecessary words.
- Use visuals that help the audience grasp concepts.
- Create callouts (circles, boxes, and highlights) to draw attention to key information.
Bonus tip: Avoid using the slide show as your script!
Express yourself. For the Expert profile, credibility and accuracy are critical, but “Expert” is not synonymous with “boring.” Employ the basics of good delivery to make your message engaging.
- Eye contact
- Posture and movement
- Vocal volume, pace, and rhythm
Having a strong delivery will boost your audience’s interest in and understanding of your topic.
Cautions for the Expert
Experts often live and breathe their subject, and their vast knowledge and experience is of great value, but they can easily overwhelm their audience. They often need to learn to curate the information shared and simplify it into everyday language.
Avoid information overload. If you’ve ever heard a presenter say, “I know this is a lot of data, but…” or “I know you can’t read this slide, but…,” then you’ve experienced a less-than-effective Expert. Remember, share only what your audience absolutely needs to know.
Use plain language. Be careful when you present to a mixed audience with different levels of interest in and understanding of your subject. To guarantee your message gets through, skip the jargon and use everyday language. That’s not “dumbing it down”—that type of simplicity is brilliant.
Are you an effective Expert?
Before you present, ask yourself the following questions to make sure you’ll communicate what your listeners need:
- What am I providing that my audience can’t get from reading a report?
- What does my audience absolutely need to know?
- What is my core message?
- What main points support my core message?
- Have I included too many details?
When using the Expert profile, trust that you know your stuff. Focus on bringing your knowledge to the audience and inform them in a way they can easily grasp. (Remember: less is more.) Once they “get it,” they can decide how to leverage it and what to do next.