Showcase Your Expertise – With a Unique and Compelling Presentation

 

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Give an excellent presentation and you’ll win not just respect but also new or additional business. Under-perform, and your reputation and business may experience a wobble.

If you’ve got years of experience, seizing the opportunity to speak to an audience can bring huge benefits both for you personally and for your business.

The question to answer is:  are you recognised as an expert in your field right now? Do you have the reputation that will draw investors and clients to you? Until you can demonstrate your expertise in a compelling manner, you’ll miss out on the best rewards. You won’t command the highest fees, negotiate the best deals, or win business awards!

Fortunately, while gaining a deep understanding of your industry takes years, you can create a fantastic presentation and acquire the skills to present it well in weeks.

 

Get your presentation content ready

After plenty of hard graft, your industry knowledge is both deep, and wide. Start by choosing your topic. With a broad knowledge of your industry, it may be difficult to pick just one. Find something that will truly interest your target audience. For maximum appeal, identify a narrow slice of your area of expertise. By going deep and avoiding generalities, you’ll be forced to be specific and showcase what you know and your audience don’t (until they hear you!)

With your niche in mind it’s time to decide what it is you want to communicate. In The 7 habits of highly effective people Dr Stephen Covey advises, “start with the end in mind”. What do you want your audience to know (or do) when you are finished? Identify three main points.

Sketch these out on a piece of paper, creating a mind map. Now note down 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? People love stories. They bring examples to life.

If you are using figures or statistics to support your business proposition, see if you can bring these numbers to life as well. Think about translating them into analogies your audience can relate to. This will help reduce barriers to understanding, and improve how your material is received.

Depending how much time you have can add additional, appropriate examples, particularly ones that will resonate with say a customer or investor audience.

To give you the best chance of maintaining your audience’s attention for the duration of your presentation, be succinct. Don’t go into more detail than you need to to make a point or illustrate an example. Your audience will thank you!

Write down your presentation. Structure it into the three main points you wish to make. Add a beginning, and a conclusion. One hint: it’s helpful to signal your closing. By saying, “And in conclusion. . .” you give your audience a clue that you are nearly finished, and they’ll reward you with renewed attention.

And if you really want to “wow” your audience, don’t use slides at all. By being the speaker who simply spoke to her audience, without any audio-visual backup, you may paradoxically make the biggest impression.  If you have a product demonstration to give – so much the better.

 

Getting your delivery ready

To really stand out, you’ll need more than just your great presentation: you’ll have to deliver it with energy and style.

The most important part of being comfortable on stage, is to be prepared. You are an expert in your business but you still need to rehearse the delivery of your presentation.

Start by simply saying it out loud. Notice if some sections are too wordy. One of the most common mistakes nervous speakers make is to use overly 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, and maintain your professional poise.

Even though you’ll be the only one speaking, aim for a style that is conversational. Imagine you are speaking to friends or colleagues. How would you speak to them? This will help you adopt an informal approach. So keep your sentences reasonably short, and avoid jargon (unless everyone in the audience is an industry insider).

Knowing your audience is helpful. It enables you to use 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. As I get better at reciting it, I will make a fresh recording. This help me use more accurate inflection, and I will have a better handle on where to put the emphasis in each sentence.

If you are serious about doing a great presentation, consider joining a Toastmasters club. Members give prepared speeches at each meeting, and most clubs have a number of experienced speakers, many of whom run businesses.  From them you’ll get helpful, constructive feedback before you deliver your presentation “for real”.  For example, there are clubs across the UK and Ireland, and most cities and towns have one.

 

When the day arrives

When it comes time to deliver your presentation, remember why you are there in the first place. You want to establish your authority, and enhance your business by sharing your expertise. You’ll want to dress like an expert, too. While many speakers have mastered the “casual look” on stage, there is a certain confidence that comes from knowing you look professional.

I highly recommend videoing your speech for later review (or at least capturing the audio). You’ll be able to objectively assess your presentation on screen in a way you’re simply not able to in the moment. Appreciate what you did well, and note areas you’d like to improve.  Think of this as an important business investment. It is well worth the time it takes.

Building your business means showcasing your expertise and becoming the go-to person. Hone your skills and make your presentations both a useful and engaging event for all your future audiences.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Bruce is from Toastmasters International a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation’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: www.toastmasters.org  Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.

 

 

 

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New Year – New Career? Why so many people seek a change as the New Year approaches

 

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The festive season is nearly upon us and as we enjoy the end of one year and the beginning of another, many people reflect on their lives and careers and ask themselves are they happy?

The New Year is the impetus that many people need to start addressing where they’re at and ask, have they achieved what they thought they would have by this point in their lives. Quite often the answer is no, says CV Guru Adrian Caffery.

Adrian is a qualified career adviser who runs a CV writing business and often gets a rush of enquiries around the Christmas and New Year holidays as people realise another year has gone by and they’re not doing what they want to do with their lives or careers.

“Lives and careers are interchangeable words to careers advisers” says Adrian, “ We are often defined by our careers. At a party or when we meet new people, we’re often asked what do we do and for some people this question can cause them to feel shame or embarrassment, when they have to admit to a career that they’re not proud of. If you feel this way, then it’s time you started to do something about it. It’s never too late. After all most people have several careers throughout their lifetime and it’s not something that is frowned upon these days. 

But changing career is not as simple as that. Adrian always advises people to honestly ask themselves what is it that they want to do, are their aspirations realistic and achievable, and what do they need to do in order to start to make that change.

 Quite often people expect a careers adviser to wave a magic wand and give people golden nuggets of advice that will change their career immediately. The truth is that it is a long, slow process, especially if you want to re-train to become a professional of one kind or another. It will quite often involve going back to college or university and getting a degree or post-graduate degree, or if you want to re-train as a plumber for instance, getting the qualifications and experience required to be able to pursue that career successfully. Most people will probably have to do this studying whilst still working in their existing job or career and juggle the two for a few years until they’re able to make the leap ”, says Adrian.

There is help out there for people who want to change careers including financial assistance such as the new government post-graduate loan scheme, which is run through Student Finance England and operates in a similar way to the undergraduate student loan scheme but at slightly better conditions. Graduates can apply for a loan of just over £10,000 to pay towards a Masters degree and only pay back 6% of anything they earn over £21,000 per year once they’ve finished their studies. This is better than undergraduates who have to pay 9% of anything they earn over £21,000 per year. The interest rates for both are similar.

There are also such schemes as Career Development Loans where people can apply to help fund their studies such as plumbing or hair-dressing training etc.

There is also free careers advise for people of all ages from the National Careers Service.

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