The four secrets to speaking with experts in the room

Many people who are otherwise confident presenters get nervous when they know that other experts will be in the audience. They think that when they’re the presenter they should know more about the topic than anyone else.

Some presenters focus so much on the other experts, that the presentation goes over the heads of everyone else in the audience.

Here are the secrets to speaking to an audience – with experts in the room.

1. You don’t have to know more than anyone else

Let go of the belief that you should know more about your topic than anyone else in the audience. That’s an unrealistic assumption and will set you up to be a nervous wreck by the time of the presentation.

2. Plan with the majority of the audience in mind

When you first start planning your presentation, plan with the majority of your audience in mind. Forget about the experts. Forget about the newbies.

3. Tweak for the newbies

Go through your presentation and look for any jargon, terms of art and acronyms that they might not instantly understand. Add an explanation. This will only take a few seconds and will ensure that they can stay on track with you.  Sometimes the experts in the room will say – oh I didn’t realise what that acronym stood for – so it can be useful for everyone.

4. Tweak for the experts

Let go of having to say something new or surprising to them. You can’t – they know all the facts and figures. And if you try and impress them in this way, you’ll quickly lose the rest of your audience. Instead impress them with the way that you explain your topic. For example, use a metaphor which hasn’t been used before. Have them say to themselves: “I hadn’t thought about it that way before” or “That’s an excellent way of explaining that concept.”

So you can deliver a presentation which is useful and engaging for every person in the room. What tips do you have for speaking with experts in the room?

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  1. Hi,

    Don’t forget to include the experts in the discussions. Solicit their opinions and you will connect with them. Plus, there is a very good chance that they will add a great deal of value for everyone involved.

    On the other hand if you alienate them they can make your life miserable;)

    Love the blog,

  2. Good points Jeff – experts can be a tremendous resource in the room. And thanks for your comment on the blog. Olivia


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