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  • Writer's pictureLiza Engel

Navigating Presentations When You're Not the Expert - 3 Key Strategies

Last week, I talked about the Expert's Dilemma. What about the opposite? Do you know that feeling where your stomach flips when you are asked to present something where you do not feel you have enough expertise? A year ago, I was asked to talk about Sustainability Regulation. All I could think about were some of my colleagues who know so much more than I do.

We've all been there – tasked with presenting a topic we're not fully versed in. It's a common scenario in the fast-paced world of business and innovation. But here's the secret: you don't have to be an expert to deliver a powerful presentation. With the right approach, you can turn this challenge into a unique opportunity to connect with your audience. Here are three concrete strategies to help you present effectively, even when you're not the expert.

1. Embrace the Power of Learning - Become a Conduit of Knowledge

Dive into a learning mindset. Your role is to be a conduit of information, not the source. Before your presentation, do a deep dive into the subject. Read articles, watch videos, or talk to experts. This builds understanding and lets you present the most current and relevant information. Remember, it's not about knowing everything – it's about understanding the key points well enough to communicate them effectively.

2. Simplify and Clarify - Complexity Is Not Queen

One common mistake non-experts make is overcomplicating the content to appear knowledgeable. Instead, aim for clarity and simplicity. Break down the topic into digestible pieces. Use analogies or stories to explain complex ideas. This approach makes your presentation more engaging and shows that you have a grasp of the subject, even if you're not a seasoned expert.

3. Engage and Interact - Turn the Presentation into an Engaging Conversation

Turn your presentation into a two-way conversation. Engaging with your audience can compensate for any lack of depth in your expertise. Pose questions, encourage feedback, and admit when you don't have an answer – this can often lead to valuable discussions and insights. This strategy makes your presentation more dynamic and builds trust and rapport with your audience. You're with them on this journey.

Image by Taylor Brandon on Unsplash

So what did I do with that task on regulation? I used a metaphor about herding cattle on horseback with my dad as a kid. Yup, true story. I referred to the role of the various outriders and that we need to be clear about who is doing what for whom with which intention and why. People still mention that story to me a year later.

Presenting as a non-expert can feel daunting, but it's also an incredible opportunity for growth and learning. You can deliver a presentation that resonates and informs by focusing on learning, simplifying your message, and engaging with your audience. The time you invest in these three steps is already a value-add for others. Remember, expertise isn't just about what you know – it's about how effectively you can share what you've learned.

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