I was asked a few months back to prepare for and present a "booster" on local taxes. The Big Day is this coming Friday (April 6) and I'm just now starting to get butterflies.

I have prepared a 40+ slide Power Point, complete with screen shots and some "pop quizzes" (a few random Q&A pieces in an attempt to keep people interested and focused because the subject matter is so dry). I feel comfortable with the LiveMeeting / Placeware setting as well as the Global Crossing telephone conference piece.

I sent out the invitation to the regional department (some 45+ people) yesterday and ultimately, probably about 25-30 will actually attend. Of the responses I've received thus far, my boss and his boss will be attending.

These boosters (which is just a funky way of saying "training class") are usually presented by the Tech Support folks - the people all the rest of us go to for answers, the people who've done every job within the department, the people who know the systems and issues backwards & forwards, inside & out.

I will be the first non-tech-support person to present a booster to the team. I've presented such boosters previously but to a much smaller team. I was previously a team lead (the company's equivalent of a supervisor) of five before taking this 'lateral' transfer into a position that has given me a much wider exposure to the products we sell, setup and service. I am new to this broader scope of products but the tax piece (the subject matter of the booster) was a daily part of my life the past 3 yrs with the company.

Part of me still feels that everyone on the call will know more than I do. I expressed concern about the more intricate aspects of the subject matter to one of the tech support people and she told me: "Just remember that you know more about the subject matter than anyone else on the call."

I just find that impossible to believe. I'm freaking out that I'm going to have a barrage of questions thrown at me that I'll have no idea how to answer and I'll end up looking like a complete fool who had no business thinking she knew anything about local taxes!

I know - just nerves, probably. But meanwhile, I need to shore up my reserves and head into the booster with a sense of confidence and purpose.

I just have no idea about how to get there from here! Ideas, tips, suggestions?

Gareth's picture
itilimp's picture
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What Gareth said, there is some really good advice in there.

What questions are you scared of answering? If you can identify some, prepare your answers now.

Remember that YOU were asked. Not anyone else, YOU. Therefore I'd infer that they believe you have sufficient knowledge to present on the topic - 3 years worth at least from the sounds of it :)

Mark's picture
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REHEARSE. First by yourself, then with friends as audience.

Then again.

That ought to do it.


cb_bob's picture

I agree with Mark that rehearsing will eliminate a LOT of your nervousness.

When I have to give educational presentations to people who I suspect know more than I do about parts of a topic, I focus on being a [i]facilitator[/i] rather than a presenter. A good facilitator can draw out the collective knowledge of the group and repackage it so that ALL of the group members can understand it. One way to accomplish this is to ask open-ended questions to either the whole group or to specific individuals. For example - "Pat, you deal with issue (x) pretty regularly, right? Well, how do you handle situation (y) when circumstances (a), (b), and (c) are present?" Wait for a response, and try to rephrase what Pat said. If you still feel like the issue hasn't been cleared up, immediately jump to someone else with a similar question - "Sam, what about you? You deal with issue (x) too. What do you find works well in this situation?"

With the amount of knowledge you have in this area, you will invariably be able to add something to the conversation after almost every comment made by the participants. You also have the advantage of knowing the participants of the "Booster" session, so you'll know who to call on and who to avoid. I think you'll do great!


ashdenver's picture

This is great advice - thanks! Most of it is stuff I will generally do in any other circumstance where I'm giving a presentation or dealing with a learning curve / want to do a collaborative learning approach. Unfortunately, the scope of this topic is immense and my time is limited to 90 mins. I'm more afraid of barely making a dent in the key points that need to be covered than looking like an incompetent.

I'm off to practice now ... !

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Bob makes a GREAT point.

When I think there may be knowledge envy on one side or the other of the podium, I back away from thinking of myself as the expert.

When I get a question, I ASSUME it's a challenge, and take a completely "you're a God and I'm just trying to keep up with you Mr. Genius Man. Please enlighten us."

Even if the questioner is BOLD about their point, I don't really care. EVERYONE in the room knows you're speaking, and anyone who ever tries to show up the presenter is ALWAYS dismissed by the audience as thin-skinned and ego-maniacal.

Just answer, compliment, and move on. DON'T ask those folks "did I answer your question?" as we recommended in the recent cast.