How Young Professionals Speak to Older Audiences

Today’s workplace has three distinct generations – Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials (and some count the microgeneration “Xennials“). As I’ve mentioned before, public speaking is one of the best ways to portray your expertise and an amazing way to generate new prospective clients, but how is a young professional supposed to speak to older audiences?

9 Keys to Speak to Older Audiences

  1. Self-Confidence – First of all, realize that you know things that others do not and you have knowledge to share. You do not need to be near retirement age to be knowledgeable enough for public speaking. For example, TED Talks feature numerous young professionals with strong messages.
  2. Speak About What You Know – I always suggest that you should speak about what you know, so you are confident in your message. When you’re younger than most of your audience, this advice is even more crucial because you don’t want to be caught off guard by a question because you don’t know your stuff.
  3. Know Your Audience – Before you start creating a PowerPoint or even thinking of what you plan to say, start with who is in your audience. Are you speaking to professionals in your industry, to the general public, or to potential clients unfamiliar with your industry. Starting with who is your audience allows you to tailor your message and talking points to their level of knowledge and to be audience-centric.
  4. Prepare Correctly – Once you know your audience, brainstorm your potential talking points and whittle your presentation down to the essentials of what your audience needs to know and how much time you have to talk. Craft an outline for your presentation and when you have that ready, then you can start creating your visual aid. (No, you don’t necessarily need a PowerPoint either.)
  5. Practice Your Presentation – The best way to build up your confidence is to be prepared. Practice your presentation as many times as it takes for you to be comfortable with the content and general flow of your presentation. Wean yourself off your outline and notes so you can look your audience in the eyes, which will reduce your fear.
  6. Dress Rehearsal Before “go time”, run through your presentation as closely to the actual presentation as possible — wear what you plan to present in, go through the entire presentation with a projector, and practice on the stage or in the room you’ll be presenting in (if possible).
  7. Breathe – Before you start your speech, take a few deep breaths. If you prepare correctly and practice, you know you’ll rock your presentation, even if you’re speaking to an older audience.
  8. Debrief Your Presentation – When you finish your presentation, take 10-15 minutes to evaluate how you did. A presentation debrief isn’t a time to be super critical and make yourself upset; instead, look back for ways to improve. Regardless how amazing you are as a public speaker, you can always improve your word selection, phrasing, body movements, eye contact, visual aid, etc.
  9. Refine Your Speaking Skills – As a young professional, you still have a lot to learn, including improving your presentation skills. Use you debrief your presentation, be honest with yourself on what areas you need to improve on and find resources to educate yourself. (Like SpeakU.)

Keep in mind, you can do it and you have something of value to share. If you keep your focus on your audience (what I call being “audience centric”) and your goal is to make their lives better, then you’ll do fine.

Additional Resources

  • Get strategies and best practices for developing winning presentations by downloading one of my presentation ebooks.
  • Master winning presentations by graduating from SpeakU!
  • Want even more presentation skills and tips? Follow Speak Simple on Facebook and SlideShare.

How Speak Simple Can Help You

Earn more new business with presentations, by winning proposal presentations and educating your prospective clients at conferences, workshops, and webinars. Your buyers want to learn from you, Speak Simple can show you how to maximize each opportunity and win more work with presentations.

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