• James Walton

What You Need to Master to Become an Excellent Presenter

There are two things you need to master to become an excellent presenter:

1) Your material

2) Your audience

Master Your Material

Mastering your material is as obvious as it is difficult. 

Getting clear on what you want to say is a generous act. (These two questions can help) It's a difficult task to order the thoughts of your mind into something that can benefit others. 

But if you press into the difficulty and find the kernel of truth that must be communicated, we are all enriched by your efforts. 

Here's a few ways to fight through that difficultly:

  • Move fast on the first draft. Self-doubt is the constant companion of the creative endeavor. If you stop long enough to judge your work in the beginning, you'll stop altogether. Focus on getting as much out of your head as fast as you can. 

  • Edit severely. Every paragraph supports your main point. Every sentence enhances the point of each paragraph. If you doesn't advance what you want people to know or what you want them to do, leave it out.

  • Stay out of the weeds. The information you're presenting is a close friend of yours. You know it well. You can speak about it in shorthand. But your audience can't. They aren't as familiar with it as you are. They don't care about it as much as you do. So make it easy for them to get the big idea. Don't drag them into the weeds. 

Master Your Audience

Understanding your material is the prerequisite step to mastering your audience. You cannot hope to make a meaningful connection to your audience if your thoughts are still a jumbled mess and your internal attention is focused on getting the next sentence out of your mouth. 

But if you have mastered your material, you're now free to engage with your audience. 

Here's a few questions to ask in order to engage more effectively.

  • Who are these people? Why did they show up here in the first place?

  • What's their level of familiarity with my subject matter? How much insider language can I use?

  • What's an argument they could make against my main point? How can I validate that concern instead of ignoring it?

  • What are they expecting? To be informed? Entertained? Challenged? Soothed?

  • Why would they care about me or what I have to say? What can I do to help them care more?

  • If I only had 60 seconds to present, what's the one thing I must say?

Presenting is a generous and important act. It's difficult to do well and worth doing the best you can. Focusing on mastering your material and your audience will make you more effective. 

June is Presentation Month at Trellis Group, and this is 1 of 8 short articles we'll publish this month. Each aims to make you a more effective communicator. If a friend of colleague could benefit, please send them this link to subscribe


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