I had to answer a question yesterday about tricks to overcome being nervous before a presentation, and it sparked the thought that one of the main reasons people get nervous is that they often are presenting to an audience that has far more experience and knowledge than they do. My answer to that is not a “trick”, it is a simple but deep truth: you have earned the right.
I have a friend who is the head chef of one of the excellent seafood restaurants here in town. Every Christmas, we host his family for dinner, and I cook the main course, which is tenderloin with my own secret marinade. Other friends have asked me if I’m ever intimidated by the fact that I have to cook for a chef, and I always answer no. The reason is that I’m not trying to show I’m a better cook than he is. That would be ridiculous. In fact, if he wanted to he could probably cook a steak way better than mine. But on that particular day, I am serving my own specialty, I know it’s wonderful, and I know it’s exactly what everyone wants.
You should think of that presentation you’re about to deliver in the same way. Maybe others have more experience or technical knowledge than you do, but you know more about that specific topic, on that given day, than anyone else in the room – otherwise, someone else would be speaking about it. And even if that were not true, you have your own opinion or perspective on the topic, and you have earned the right to voice that point of view through your deep and thorough preparation. You have earned the right to be the top expert in the room for the time you have the floor.
As the saying goes, too many cooks spoil the broth. Throw all the other cooks out of the kitchen – at least mentally – and get to work!