Have you found a work-around for a common issue in your field?
Are you just back from an industry conference, with some insights on the latest trends?
Whatever it is, sharing what you’ve learned can benefit your co-workers and your organization. Do it well, and it can also turbo-charge your career or your business.
You don’t have to be a world authority on a topic, to be able to share what you know. Whether it’s a skill in social media, or a new way of approaching an issue in your industry, sharing your expertise with your colleagues can be a great way to help them, while developing your own skillset. Best of all, it can open doors and unlock opportunities.
Making an impression
Sharing links to content on social media is a popular and efficient way to share information with your colleagues. You can forward a LinkedIn update to your connections in a few seconds with just the click of your mouse. An item in your staff newsletter is another option, but it won’t necessarily give you much exposure. Decide to present in person, however, and you create the opportunity make a much bigger impression.
Let’s say you just returned from a conference. Did the keynote speaker have any insights you found particularly interesting? Did she identify trends that will impact your industry? Did you see a new piece of technology that can help you and your colleagues to become more productive?
Sharing is caring
Here’s a step-by-step approach to turning what you learned into a presentation that will impress:
- Decide what was most news-worthy. If it’s a new piece of technology, how will it impact the way you and your colleagues work? The more ‘disruptive’ it is, the more interested your audience will be. Equally, if a new piece of legislation is going to affect how things get done, that can be a game-changer as well. Look for things that may not be on everyone’s radar, but should be!
- Decide who would be the best audience for your news. Is it your team members, or the senior management team? A group of industry colleagues, or a committee you work with? Identifying the most appropriate audience for your information will help you create a successful and worthwhile presentation.
- Before you begin to decide what to communicate, consider how your audience will benefit from what you propose to tell them. Will it help them to be more effective? Earn more money? Be seen as a leader? Understanding how your audience is motivated will help you craft a message that appeals to them. Unless your news seems relevant to them, they are unlikely to listen closely.
- Find a forum to share your news. Is there an opportunity to piggy-back onto an event that is already in the diary, or do you need to create a forum to share your news? Speaking to your HR team, or local industry or professional development organization may reveal an upcoming event that is a good fit.
- Once you have a slot to speak at, it’s time to create your presentation. It’s important to tailor what you say to the amount of time you have been allocated. Let’s say you have a ten-minute slot at a CPD event, just ahead of the main speaker. A good way to structure your presentation is to allocate a minute to your introduction, and a minute to your conclusion. Allocate another 1-2 minutes to a Q&A after you finish. That leaves six minutes for your presentation. Now it’s time to develop the body of your presentation.
- Open by answering the question everyone will be thinking. With the six minutes you have, it’s best to identify a few key points that make your presentation important or relevant. Your audience may not say it aloud, but everyone there will be wondering, “What’s in it for me?” Aim to answer this unspoken question early in your presentation. For example, you could open by clearly stating your topic’s relevance for everyone in the audience: “I recently attended the AllWidgets conference in Manchester, and I was struck by the potential that a new piece of software has, to change the way we all engage with our clients.” That’ll get their attention! It also leads nicely into a summary of your three main points.
- Decide the three most important things your audience should learn from your presentation. Alternately, you could make your main point, and then support it with three examples or case studies. (Three seems to be a magical number when it comes to presentations, because people are able to retain three items more readily.) Make sure at least one point will be relevant to 100% of the attendees.
- Develop your conclusion, and then, lastly, write your introduction. It may seem backward, but it’s only once you have decided on the main points of your presentation and what you will end on, that you can write the introduction to tell your audience what you are going to tell them.
- Write up your presentation, and speak it aloud. You will find that simply saying your presentation out loud will reveal parts that are too wordy, or don’t flow well. Edit it and say it again until it flows smoothly.
- Time your presentation to ensure it is the right length, and practice it.
Sharing news with your colleagues in-house or in the wider arena of your industry is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about a topic that interests you. By making a presentation, you also develop skills that will stand you in good stead regardless of your industry or level of seniority. If you are nervous about speaking in public, Toastmasters is a great way to develop your skills in a safe and welcoming environment. Some clubs will even allow you to do a test-run of your presentation, which is a super opportunity to get feedback ahead of “the real thing”!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Bruce is a member of Toastmasters International – a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations.