I have spoken at a few conferences now and each time is slightly different, but in speaking, I have learned a few simple things that you can do to make the best of your speaking opportunities. If you aren’t trying to speak at conferences and events to promote your expertise and personal brand, then maybe you should look into it, as I’ve found it to provide a great sense of enjoyment and pride.
Speaking is also great way to build up confidence, network with people, and add value to your niche’s community. Following these tips will help make it as stress and incident free as possible but remember, if they don’t like what you are saying, they can always leave, so focus on doing the best you can, and don’t worry too much about the audience.
The first thing you can do to make sure your presentation goes over well is to practice. I usually practice by myself a few times and then do the whole presentation in front of someone. It doesn’t hurt to record it or do it in front of a mirror, as you’ll then be able to catch facial expressions or body language that you might want to correct before doing it in front of an audience.
Most presentations that people don’t like usually suffer from an issue with flow. Making sure to organize your thoughts and transitions from slide to slide will allow you to go through the whole presentation in a nice, organized, and efficient way. Your audience will notice this and your presentation will seem better because of it.
You should always have some prompts on hand to make sure you know what it coming next, as well as what key points you want to hit on. Don’t read off the slides, especially if they aren’t directly in front of you.
Have Stories, Tips, and Tricks
Going with the previous point, making sure to have some prompts for stories, tips or tricks you want to hand out is very helpful, and it also helps bring an understanding between you and the audience. This part is usually where people either win or lose a crowd, so be prepared. Trying to eloquently explain something off the cuff can be very difficult, and increase your stress thus increasing the tension in the room.
Panels are Easier!
If it is going to be your first time speaking, try getting in on a panel. Panels allow you to offload some of the burden of presentation on others, and depending on how many people are involved, your total responsibility for a session can be fairly minimal. It is also easier for some to answer questions on things they know, than present on a topic.
It also allows you to pass on questions that you don’t know the answer to.
Have Back-up Plans
Your computer might break, your notes might catch on fire, or you might just forget that key sample product. Make sure you have back-up plans for everything in your presentation. So many people assume that certain things and are shocked when they arrive, only to find out that there is no internet connection, they can’t use their computer, and that their supplies never showed up.
Be ready for anything and everything.
Brand Your Material
If you are going to be giving product away, handing out sheets of paper, or using a slideshow presentation, make sure to put your brand on all of it. At the end of your session, without having to pitch or sell yourself or your company, everyone in the room should be able to remember who you are, or what company you work for. This is of great benefit to the audience as it allows them to connect with you as long as they remember that key piece of information.
Speaking at events can seem daunting, but once you are on stage, and that adrenaline rush hits you, there are few greater highs. Enjoy the ride, plan as much as possible, and don’t forget to smile.