How to Present to Your Peers

Sometimes you have to present to a group of your peers (in-person or virtually) and you may be speaking about something they know quite a bit about themselves. How do you come across as being knowledgeable and confident while at the same time not inflating your knowledge or sounding condescending and cocky?

First, you need to believe that you are qualified to give the presentation.  Start by understanding why you have been asked to give it.  What is it about your knowledge or experience that makes you the perfect person to deliver this presentation? Perhaps you led the project or know the client or product better than others. 

(Yes, sometimes you’re giving the presentation just because nobody else wanted to do it.  But even in that case, you have earned the right to be presenting.)

Being clear about the reason ahead of time can help you focus and be more confident when you present in front of your peers, rather than being stuck in your head worrying, “Who am I to present? These people know more just as much – or more – than I do about this topic.” 

Second, once you cover this ground with yourself, focus on your content. Think about it from the audience’s point of view – what questions or concerns might they have? If you’re not sure, ask a few of your peers. Organize your content around one central message and include examples, stories and statistics to support that message, while also making sure to stay within your time limit.

Finally, practice your presentation so you can deliver it concisely and confidently.   Practice in front of a mirror or on camera.  In particular, be aware of your facial expressions and your tone.  Do you sound condescending, like you are lecturing the audience?

Sometimes you intend to sound one way and you come across differently, so ask for feedback from a trusted colleague, mentor or coach.  There can be a subtle difference between a smile and smirk or between sounding confident and sounding cocky and it’s helpful to get outside feedback (in addition to watching yourself on camera) so you can tell the difference.

If you follow these steps to prepare and practice your presentation, you will be more comfortable and confident when you're presenting to your peers. 


© Gilda Bonanno LLC - Gilda Bonanno serves as a trusted advisor to executives and entrepreneurs to transform their communication, presentation and leadership skills.  She has worked with companies on 4 continents, from Chicago to Shanghai and Rio to Rome.  The instructional videos on her YouTube channel have received over 2 million views and her e-newsletter has reached subscribers in over 45 countries since 2008.  For other articles or to receive Gilda's e-newsletter, visit