On Wednesday 10 February, Ryan Boyd hosted a Virtual Insights session which focused on a key component of many actuarial roles…presenting before an audience.
Sweaty palms, thoughts flying faster than the speed of light and jungle-sized butterflies swirling in your stomach; yes, my colleagues, it is public speaking. Whether to a large audience or to the board, this task can strike trepidation in even the most experienced. Not to mention, that the topic being presented on is complex and difficult to explain.
Additionally, COVID-19 has managed to thrust the once personal world into a digital one, forcing people to make use of and embrace new means of collaborating, meeting and indeed presenting in a virtual world.
In partnership with the Actuaries Institute, I was able to share some advanced tips and tricks from my 16 years of presenting and facilitating experience. The Virtual Insights session addressed how to present effectively on any topic to any audience, but more importantly how to apply these to your version and style of presenting. Ultimately, embracing your unique self is the most important part. By making use of some of my tips and tricks, you can be yourself while making sure that the message you want to convey is clear, easy to understand and personally addresses your target audience.
Below are some of the key points that were covered. Keep in mind, both presenting and facilitation is about acknowledging the four major buckets, namely Preparation, Introduction, Content and Conclusion, with questions.
It is said that 55% of the message you are trying to convey is from your body language, while 38% is tone, and lastly, only 7% is attributable to the actual words that you speak. If this is true, shouldn’t the time we spend preparing be distributed in a similar fashion? In the virtual format, this is even more important with the human interaction being at a minimal, but making use of your voice via mic, camera combined with simple, yet effective slides and storytelling, the presenter can achieve their goal and feel prepared to deliver their message.
This is the time to relax and get out those initial nerves – which are natural and should be there. If you are not nervous, then you probably do not care for your topic. I find making sure that I have a high energy, yet easy to remember introduction with the use of movement and tone, you can get over the nerves and focus on the topic at hand easier. The next and most important part is to connect with the audience. At the end of the day, you want the audience to want to listen to you and also feel comfortable to reach out after the session to ask any more detailed questions if need be.
As actuaries, we focus very heavily on the content and make sure that it is all there and 100% correct. This is not a bad thing, but I suggest focusing on smaller amounts of detail and more attention on the story and point you are trying to make, always bringing it back to how this topic will impact the audience and their needs.
This is where you bring the topic home and not forget to keep energy levels high. This is a good spot to summarise the main points, followed by an effective call to action and invitation to reach out if the audience would like to talk more about the topic. Lastly, the environment should be created as such to allow for questions and interaction but trying to maintain control of the situation.
Although this article does not give justice to all the topics covered in the two-hour presentation, it does however give some food for thought to help you when attempting to deliver your important message in your style but being aware of the audience too.
Missed the session? Catch up here.
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