If you have spent years working and studying in a field you are an expert. An audience will naturally give you a level of expertise for having the courage to stand in front of them. Not trusting your knowledge and expertise in a presentation can spell disaster.
I attended a presentation by a friend to give her moral support. As soon as she started I knew she had lost her trust in her subject matter. During our normal conversation she is full of excitement when she is talking about her expertise. At the presentation she was very nervous and read most of her talk from an obvious flip chart in front of her.
Fortunately she mentioned at the beginning of her presentation that the flip chart was a way to keep her on track. Acknowledging the elephant in the room minimizes distraction. The other saving grace of the presentation was the Q&A session at the end. By the third question she was back to her old self, spewing information with excitement.
I understand the need for notes to remind you of where you are in your presentation. I’m so ADD that more than once the next section of my presentation has jumped out of my mind. Recently, during a presentation I was giving, I was about to mention a gentleman in the audience that I have know for close to a year and his name would not come to me. As I stood on stage with my arm extended in his direction, mouth open, and a strange look on my face, he yelled his name. Luckily the audience laughed and I made the comment “That’s right, congratulations you passed the test.”
The best way I have found to remember where you are at in a presentation is to use some thing like a mind map. Because you know your subject so well, all you need is a word or two that triggers your memory. Then it’s a matter of trusting your expertise. If you are not familiar with mind mapping check out Tony Buzan’s site here, it’s a great tool for speaking. Once you are ready to try to out, there are several free programs to get you started