Expert, Interpreter, Catalyst…what is your presentation profile?

Chain link dollarYou may be preparing for a quarterly review, analyst meeting or product launch. Perhaps you are getting ready for that next big sales pitch, upcoming conference or trade show speech. As you prepare, stop and ask yourself:

“What is the value of this presentation to my listeners? Am I giving them what they need in a way they can easily understand?”

How you answer these questions may in fact determine how effective you are when you step up to speak. While there are many different approaches, consider the following three “types of presenters” and ask yourself, “what is my presentation profile?”

Expert. This is the person who understands in detail the who, what and why of a situation. Perhaps it is the marketing manager who knows the ins and outs of the new product being launched, the scientist whose sole focus is the findings from a recent study or the financial analyst who lives and breathes numbers. The expert lives their content day in and day out and as a result they are afflicted with the dreaded “curse of knowledge”. They frequently share a laundry list of information that makes perfect sense to them but usually have no identifiable structure or context for it to be meaningful to others.

If you listen to an expert you may hear them say:

  • I know this is a lot of information, but . . .
  • I know you can’t read this slide, so let me tell you what it says . . .

As the expert you find yourself thinking, “if I say anything less, I will be dumbing it down”.

As the listener, you find yourself overwhelmed with information and unable to keep up.

Interpreter.  As an interpreter, you are you bilingual . . . meaning, you have the needed expertise, are attuned to your audience and are able to translate information in a way that is meaningful to them. This person takes the time to clarify a core message, organize the content into logical chunks of information. They then craft a story that has an identifiable purpose and structure. As they develop their presentation interpreters consider, “what do my listeners absolutely need to know about this topic? How can I share it in a way they can understand?”

The biggest difference between the expert and the interpreter is their intent.  While the expert is focused on pushing out information; the interpreter wants to convey information in a way that is meaningful to their listeners.

As an interpreter, you may feel confident in your message and your ability to connect with your audience.

After listening to an “interpreter” you may walk away saying, “I get it.”

Catalyst. A catalyst recognizes that their job goes beyond getting their audience to understand. Their mission is to inspire. Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Robin Roberts are examples of speakers who are catalysts: creating change and moving people to action. While all of these examples are iconic figures, anyone who has the desire to be confident, heard and inspiring when they step up to speak has the potential to be a catalyst.

In addition to the abilities that the expert and the interpreter bring to a presentation, the catalyst is purposeful in what is being said. The catalyst brings the personal to how it is communicated. This presenter recognizes the importance of crafting a story that is easy for listeners to both relate to and act on.

As a catalyst, you are committed to your listeners “getting it” and to engaging them in the process, recognizing that results happen through collaboration. You will see a catalyst inviting interactivity, being passionate and having the clarity that has an audience saying, “let’s get it done!”

Expert, interpreter or catalyst? Where do you find yourself? Please share where you land!