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10 Ways To Be Perceived As The Expert With Any Audience

Jan 20, 2008
Public speaking is an excellent way to position yourself as the expert in your field. It's also a great way to show your audience that you're likable, caring and funny. The focus of this article, however, is going to be on the importance of public speaking and how to use it to position yourself as the authority in your field.

It's significant to note that there are two levels of expertise you can convey to an audience if you choose to practice the art of public speaking. The first and most basic level is to establish your expertise in your field of interest. The higher and more profitable level is to apply your expertise to the unique concerns of your audience.

It's the difference between a media coach speaking to a group of financial planners about how to get media attention and speaking to them about how they can position themselves as financial planning experts focusing on the media their clients read, watch and listen to. The first positions the speaker as a media expert and the second positions the speaker as the financial media expert.

Here are ten tips on public speaking to insure that your audience will see you as the ultimate authority in your field.

Pre-program Preparation
Send your audience a pre-program outline of your presentation and make sure it's tailored to your audience. Ask them to fill-out a simple questionnaire and encourage them to ask their most burning questions about your topic. Use their questions and answers to demonstrate your ability to apply your expertise to their specific situations.

Write your introduction and ask the most respected person in the room to introduce you. Make sure to include your name, the subject you're going to talk about and why you're qualified to speak on the matter. The last line of your introduction should read, "Please help me welcome Your Name."

Opening Statement
You have 30 seconds to make a positive first impression, maybe less. Take that time to connect with your audience by letting them know you respect their time. You can do that by demonstrating that you clearly understand their unique situation as it applies to your area of expertise. Share a statistic, give the results of your survey, share a conversation you had with one of the participants, etc. Let them know you understand.

Industry Jargon
Every field and every industry has its own jargon. You would be well advised to learn the jargon of your audience and use it in your presentation. You can find the terminology used by your audience in their job titles, product names, forms and forums, trade journals, magazines and in one-on-one conversations. Nothing tells an audience that you understand them better than using the words and phrases they use everyday.

Tell The Future
I'm amazed at the level of attention given to psychics, seers and futurists. They're all very comfortable telling the future and people are only too willing to pay them for their insights.

Ask people where they think their industry will be five years from now and you'll quickly develop your own opinion. Don't keep it to yourself. Tell your audience what you think the future holds for them and then tell them how they can make it even better.

Give everyone in your audience a professional handout at your presentation. It should include your name, photo, contact information and a Keeper. A Keeper is something of value that no one will throw away. This could include a list of resources, humourous quotes or a to do list.

Find an industry example to make your point. Real experts don't use examples from one industry to make a point in another. If you can't find an industry specific example to make your point, you may not need to make the point at all.

The best way to find an industry illustration is to share your generic example with people in the industry and ask them to give you an example from their industry. You'll be amazed at how many good examples they come up with.

I once asked a professional speaker if he thought it was important to be humorous when giving a presentation. He said it was only important if you want to get paid. That was the best advice I've ever received.

Most every professional speaker will tell you that the best humor is personal and topical. When you tell a funny story about a situation that people in your audience have found themselves in, they'll remember you forever. Your ability to use industry specific humor as it applies to your area of expertise will instantly position you as the expert in your field.

Experts are known by the company they keep. Make a point during your presentation to let your audience know the industry experts you affiliate with. You can easily do this by mentioning that in a recent conversation you had with so-and-so you talked about such-and-such.

Don't be a namedropper for the sake of showing off, and don't refer to anyone more than once, it's pretentious. Talking about your affiliation with other well known experts in your field may only serve to position them as the expert and you as the student. Don't do it.

As the expert in your field, you are probably very well read. You've reviewed dozens if not hundreds of books, websites, articles, blog posts and reports on your subject. Don't keep these resources a secret.

Your audience will never read everything you've read on the subject, but they will appreciate knowing that these resources exist and that you recommend them. When you mention these resources in your presentation and list them on your handout, you position yourself as a well-read expert. It doesn't hurt to mention your books and articles either.

Make time for questions and answers at every presentation you give. It's a great time to show off what you know, and a fantastic time to learn about the problems and creative solutions discovered by your audience members. These sessions will provide you with wonderful material for future presentations.

Start the session by reading one of the questions asked on your pre-program questionnaire. Choose a question that you can easily answer or one that you've thoroughly researched. By doing so, you will further position yourself as the expert in your field.

If someone in the audience asks a question that you don't know the answer to, here are a few ways to handle it. You can either tell them that you will research the answer and post it to your website, or you can throw the question back to the audience to answer. When I don't know the answer to a question I respond by saying, "That's a great question. Would someone like to take a crack at it?"

At that point one of two things happen. Either no one replies, which is when I tell them I'll research the question and post it on my site; or someone comes up with a great answer. Either way the audience gets what they're looking for. As the expert, you don't have to have all the answers. You just need to know where to find them.
About the Author
Bob Sommers is the host of the Recognized Expert Marketing show on Maui. Listen to Bob and other marketing experts talk about the importance of public speaking , the art of persuasion , Internet marketing and more.
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