Unless you’re the type of person to sit quietly at your desk from 9 to 5 with no hopes of ever getting a promotion or reaching a new level of your career, chances are at some point you will have to explain yourself.
You might not have to get on a TED talk stage in front of hundreds of people or stand sweating bullets in a CEO’s glass-walled office, but you will have to explain what you do and why you do it.
Yes, even if you work in IT.
Of course, as an IT professional, it can be difficult to know how to go about these types of presentations. Keep reading, and you’ll learn some important tips for effectively outlining the strategy in your brain so that people outside of your brain can understand it.
Have Your Goals Well Defined
Before going into a presentation, you want to be sure that you know what you’re presenting beyond the technical aspects. For example, if you’re sharing a VoIP implementation project plan, of course, you want to be able to explain what that plan is, but you also need to be clear about why you’re doing what you’re doing. Why are you implementing VoIP in the first place? How will you plan have a positive impact on bigger business goals? Perhaps cost savings will mean more resources for other strategic investment, or your streamlined plan will mean that IT personnel can move off of phone support quickly to start focusing on other technical initiatives.
Whatever your overall strategy is, make sure the reasoning behind it is clear to you before you go into your presentation.
Identify Your Audience
The audience for your presentation is critical. Your audience will define how you approach your presentation, from language (more on that next) to presentation tactics. Some audiences will be more difficult to engage on technical topics than others, so be sure that you pair your presentation with some engaging visuals. If possible, try to find out beforehand how knowledgeable your audience will be on the topic of IT strategy, so you’re not walking in blind.
Use the Right Language
When it comes to presenting an IT strategy, you are going to need to use some technical jargon. However, be sure that you tailor your presentation to how much your audience already knows. You probably don’t need to define “email” to anyone, but you might need to sprinkle through explanations of some terms that are second nature to you, like “VoIP” or “SIP trunking” or whatever terms are integral to your specific strategy. When defining terms that come easily to you, be sure to use language that is clear and concise without being patronizing. There is no better way to turn an audience off than to make them feel stupid.
Presenting an IT strategy -- or any strategy -- to a group can be a nerve-wracking experience for those of us that are not natural public speakers. The more research you can do and the better you understand your strategy and your audience, the more likely you are to keep them engaged and to get your key points across.
Above all, be sure to practice your presentation in front of a friendly crowd before your big performance.