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  • Writer's pictureLiza Engel

Smarter Presenting - Navigating the Expert's Dilemma

In hindsight, after a presentation or pitch, we often find ourselves in a whirl of "should haves" and "could haves." But what if we flipped the script and started with these reflective insights? What if we gave ourselves the design challenge: How might we overcome the expert's dilemma, and what "should haves" and "could haves" do I need to tackle now before I begin? 


When deeply entrenched in a subject, your world is complex and nuanced. I've often found myself tempted to share every intricate detail, every nuanced understanding of my field. But here's the catch – this richness, while exhilarating to me, can be overwhelming for my audience. 


The truth is that being so close to a subject can sometimes blur our vision. We assume our audience is on the same page, that they have a base level of understanding that aligns with ours or that they surely want to know all about our exciting work. I've been guilty of skipping over the foundational elements and diving straight into the deep end with too much detail and complex concepts. But this approach risks losing our audience right at the start.


And then there's passion – a double-edged sword. My enthusiasm for topics usually knows no bounds, and I want to share every thrilling aspect. This zeal, though infectious, can lead to an information overload, where my desire to share knowledge overshadows the audience's ability to absorb it.


The art of balancing these tendencies is vital to effective communication. It's about distilling information to its most impactful essence, aligning the complexity with the audience's grasp, and transforming passion into engaging storytelling.



Image by Rita Morais on Unsplash


So, how do I plan to navigate this expert's dilemma? 


  1. First, by adopting an audience-centric approach, I ask myself, "What does my audience already know? What will resonate with them?" This helps me tailor my content, ensuring it's relevant and engaging. (See blog on human insight)

  2. Next, I practice the art of summarization. It's about boiling down complex ideas to their bare essentials. I use metaphors, analogies, and relatable examples – tools that make abstract concepts concrete and digestible.

  3. Finally, I rely on feedback from dry runs. Presenting to a non-expert friend or colleague offers fresh perspectives. Their feedback pinpoints technical or detailed areas, guiding me to adjust my content for clarity and engagement.


As I prepare for my next presentation, these reflections and strategies are my guiding lights. They remind me that being an expert isn't just about what you know but how effectively you share it. And in that sharing, the true art of communication unfolds – accessible, engaging, and transformative. 


So, to my fellow experts, are you ready to embrace this challenge? I challenge you to ensure your next presentation is not just a showcase of your expertise but a bridge that connects, enlightens, and inspires your audience, leaving them on the edge of their seats. In the end, the most profound knowledge is that which is shared and understood. And wouldn't you like to be understood and have your audiences asking for more?! 

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