Communicating Expert Ideas in a Corporate Presentation
Presenting your expert ideas to an audience within the same field is one thing, but presenting them to an audience outside of your field is another thing. Not knowing the same jargon is like speaking different languages. If you want your ideas understood, you need to translate your expertise into something that your audience understands. Here’s how to translate your ideas to fit a corporate presentation.
1. Simplify your content
..What is more important: what you say, or how you say it? As an expert in your field communicating to a corporate audience, both. Ideas are powerless if they are not communicated well. As Nancy Duarte explained in one of her TED talks, “You are not Luke Skywalker, you are Yoda.” That is, if you want to influence your audience, you need to guide them to the ways of the Force. You need to adapt your ideas to fit a corporate presentation, not the other way around.
If you are presenting to a general audience outside of your field, chances are, they do not know half of the jargon that you do nor do they have the knowledge that you possess. You need to find the balance between what you are saying and how you are saying it.
First things first: simplify your content. Does it fit a corporate presentation? There is only so much poor or boring content a charismatic delivery technique can hide. When you are trying to communicate a complex concept in a corporate presentation, you need to keep your content simple and straightforward. Make sure that it covers the basics and nothing more. Save the specialized jargon for audience questions.
2. Practice with someone outside of your field
.Now that you have simplified your content, it’s time to ask: is it simplified enough? This does not mean reducing the intellectual content of your findings or sensationalizing your research. Remember that there is a difference between using language that is simple (easy to understand), and simplistic (treating the problem as if it is not actually very complex at all). Experts often become so knowledgeable in their field or so engrossed in their research that complex ideas become so trivial to them and they tend to forget that they’re not trivial for everybody else. After all, the audience you are presenting to also experts in their own field. When you translate your ideas to fit a corporate presentation, make sure you meet your audience where they are comfortable.
Testing your presentation to someone outside of your field (or better yet, within the same field as your audience) allows you to reformulate your ideas in a different way, if need be. Having someone ask the basic questions will give you an idea of how your audience thinks. This will help you structure your presentation in a way that would guide your audience towards understanding your idea and help you formulate the professional jargon in ways that everyone could understand.
3. Metaphors are your friend
.When trying to explain complex information to an audience, metaphors are your friend. When used right, not only can metaphors symbolize an idea in a way that your audience understands or can relate to, but they can also stimulate the subconscious, emotional part of your audience’s brains — allowing your idea to stick to them.
Here’s an example. When Jeff Hudson, CEO of Venafi, described internet security as he was addressing executives in Global 5000 businesses, he pointed out: “Keys and certificates are blindly trusted.” He likened cryptographic keys and digital certificates — which identify webservers, software, devices, apps, and critical infrastructure — to the tags attached to every cell in the human body. “Cybercriminals use them to hide in encrypted traffic,” Hudson said to the audience. After which, he explained that his solution, Venafi, solved that problem by functioning like our immune system, which relies on our cells’ tags “to identify what is self and what isn’t — what to trust and what to destroy.”
4. Focus on your findings
So you’ve been doing your research for years. The statistics are staggering. In many cases, you are advised to let the data speak for themselves. But in a corporate presentation, you should probably do most of the talking. If you are going to show some numbers to support your cause — which you probably are, and rightfully so — focus on your findings. In plain English, talk about what those numbers mean, and how it could affect the world — or better yet, talk about how it could affect your audience. This will make your message more easily understood at a glance.
5. Minimize your material
How much technical detail should you include? Generally, as little as possible! Focus on the essentials that your audience will understand. Remember: you have to meet them at a place where they are comfortable. Limiting your material gives your points more breathing room. It might feel like you are losing nuance, but keep in mind that this is a corporate presentation and you more likely won’t be surrounded by your usual crowd. If you do the same talk as you would with the people in your field, it won’t benefit your audience or your message. As previously mentioned: ideas are powerless if they are not communicated well. In other words, the value of an idea is judged not just by its content but also by how well it’s understood. Therefore, it is pivotal to remove any possible barriers to understanding.
Are you ready to deliver a corporate presentation?
What it all boil downs to is putting your audience at the center of your presentation when you are considering content, presentation style and everything in between. Who are they? What type of jargon are they used to? What type of information are they interested in? Remember: you are Yoda, not Luke Skywalker. It’s about making sure that your ideas are simplified without being simplistic and getting your message through to you audience by guiding them and helping them understand your idea. When in doubt, test your presentation out to someone outside of your field.