My little first-grader has to give a presentation this week for her school Biography Day and she isn’t a bit disconcerted. I even asked if she was nervous, though I know I shouldn’t have. I probed some more and discovered why she has no problem with this activity.
- No one has told her it is scary to speak in public, so she has no reference to negative association
- She’s interested in the subject matter and has done everything she can to learn about her topic
- She has enthusiasm to teach others what she has learned
I think this is the essence of authentic presenting. We’ve all been to presentations where the presenter simply reads the bullet points on a PowerPoint slide. It just doesn’t click with the audience. What if we started doing more authentic presentations? Here are my thoughts:
- Don’t submit proposals to speak at every conference. Select the ones that truly excite you and generate a positive internal response.
- Don’t try to come up with the most unique, original and obscure topic. Speak about something you believe in and have immersed yourself in on a regular basis.
- When you are asked to speak about something for which you are unfamiliar, suggest another topic, decline the invitation, or focus on a small element of the topic so you can become knowledgeable quickly.
- Use the tools that naturally relate to your topic. If you are presenting on Web 2.0, don’t use a PowerPoint presentation. If you are speaking about building communities, involve the audience and your network.
- Be comfortable admitting what you don’t know. When it comes time for questions, if you don’t know the answer, admit it. Provide a resource for contact following the presentation and give the audience the answers they seek.
Be authentic in your presenting and it will increase your confidence and your reputation as a presenter.