Management recognizes that there is brilliance that resides in the cubicles of your organization. They want to tap into that experience and help others grow. And they've chosen you to share your expertise with the rest of the organization. You know your topic well, but are not accustomed to making presentations in a group setting. What you need now is...
5 tips for presenting your next lunch and learn.
Tip 1 - Handling Stage Fright
If you're not accustomed to speaking in front of a group or are nervous about the prospect, then remember the following.
Being prepared is the best thing you can do for yourself if you're nervous about being in front of a group. Review your material thoroughly. Use spell check but recognize that spell check won't catch if you type "you" instead of "your" or "he" instead of "the." Make your copies of "take-aways" at least one day before the presentation. If possible, check out the room a day or more before the presentation. Test the equipment, get a feel for the room. If you're doing a software demonstration, actually practice using the computer in the conference room to make sure you can make all the necessary network connections, find all the right files, etc. On the day of the presentation, get to the room at least a half-hour early to make sure everything is in place and the equipment is ready.
Rehearse what you're going to say out loud. You can do this in the empty room where you'll be doing the presentation, in front of a mirror at home, or in front of a couple of trusted colleagues. It's different talking through your presentation than thinking through it. Take the time to speak the material aloud and you'll be much more polished and comfortable during your presentation.
o You've Been Where They Are
You've been an audience member before so you know from your own experience that your audience wants you to be successful. Don't apologize a million times, even if you feel like "I'm dying up here!" It's OK to make a quick apology if there is a problem out of your control, but don't feel like you need to apologize for the manner in which you are presenting the material. When you start apologizing, you undermine your message. Remember, the audience is rooting for you. Repeatedly apologizing because you're not presenting the material well is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Believe it or not, you're not doing that badly. But if you keep apologizing, your audience will start believing you are.
Tip 2 - Provide Information Ahead of Time
Prior to the lunch & learn, provide the members of your organization with an outline of what you're going to cover. The outline should provide a list of subjects you'll be covering, the depth at which you'll be covering the material and the intended audience. Armed with this information, your co-workers will be able to see that your presentation is a good investment of their time.
Tip 3 - Content
There will only be so much material that you can cover during the allotted time. This is another reason to rehearse so you have an estimate of how long it will take to cover your material. Deliver the material in a logical manner and at the appropriate level for the audience. If you are discussing a process, the use of a software application or programming language, consider using examples in your presentation. This allows the audience to take the material from an academic thought to a more practical application of the theory. Better yet, if you have a relevant story related to the topic of your presentation share that. Stories help your audience both understand the material better and help them retain what they've learned. Try to remember back to the time when you weren't the subject matter expert on the topic of your presentation. Explain those things you once found confusing so the audience can learn from your experience. Plan for and provide time in your presentation for questions.
Tip 4 - Provide your Audience a "Take-Away"
A "take-away" is tangible material that the audience can take with them when they leave. The take-away should either support the content of the presentation or provide additional information on the subject. Examples of take-aways are:
o White paper or article - Write a white paper or an article on your content that either reiterates the material covered in your presentation or which goes into more depth than what you were able to provide in the time allotted. This form of take-away can be extraordinarily valuable your audience.
o A list of reference materials - List the reference materials - industry articles, workshops, books, people, websites - you have used in growing your knowledge and skills. This will give your audience the means to further their education as well.
o Notes taking sheet - This could be an outline on which the participant can take notes, a sheet with key words missing that the participants fill in the blanks or a copy of the PowerPoint slides.
o Blended the take-aways above - Blend one or more of the ideas already listed to give the audience the tools and the information they need to grow their knowledge.
Tip 5 - Know the expectations
If you're not crystal clear about any of the details of the lunch and learn, ask the person who requested you what his or her expectations are. Make sure you know the time frame (date and time, duration), understand the target audience (current knowledge level and desired level of detail), and comprehend what the requestor hopes the audience will walk away with from the presentation. Knowing and understanding the expectations will help ensure a more successful experience for all concerned.
Sharing your knowledge with fellow employees is a great service to them and to management. Your presentation will increase the value of your co-workers as they learn and it will increase your value as you help the organization meet its mission. While it's an honor and a privilege to be asked, remember the bigger win is for the organization. So go out there and make the most of the lunch and learn experience!
Kelly Vandever is a presentation skills expert who helps companies and individuals communicate their messages more effectively. An award winner speaker herself, Kelly delivers speeches, training and coaching that will help clients develop their content and enhance their presentation. If you have something important to say, Kelly can help you say it. Kelly can be reached through the Communications for Everyone web site http://CommunicationsForEveryone.com
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