7 Simple Tips for Speaking at a Conference – and Nailing It

Mar 19, 2014 Linda Walsh

Congratulations You Have a Speaking Slot. Now What? Whether you’re sitting on a panel or taking the main stage as the keynote, here are a few tips to ensure you’re a success on stage and making the most of your time in the spotlight.

1)  Stack the Deck. Work with the conference organizers to determine what type of presentation material you need. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s incredibly important in terms of preparation. If you’re planning on using something such as PowerPoint or Prezi, you’ll need to give yourself enough time to develop the content, get comfortable presenting with it, and in some cases, get approval from the conference organizers before the big day.

2)  Switch Seats. Imagine that you are going to attend your session as an audience member and ask yourself: why am I here, and what do I want to learn? Is the presentation entertaining as well as informative? Make sure the content is suitable for the audience’s level of knowledge of the subject. While you’re on stage, be animated and enthusiastic. Taping a practice session is a great way to switch perspectives.

3) Tell a Story. Hold the Pitch. Unless you were specifically asked to give a demonstration of your product or service or an overview of your company – hold the sales pitch. You’re there to share your point of view and expertise, not explain what you sell, what you do or how people can buy it. It’s the fastest way to lose credibility. If you’re struggling with this one, check out When it Comes to PR: Less Product, More POV, Please. Ideally, your speech should tell a story that has people wanting more and dying to hear what happens next.

4)  Embrace A/V. The quickest way to lose your nerves on stage is to encounter an A/V problem in front of the crowd (e.g. reverb, feedback in the monitors, projection malfunction, etc.) The time to get to know the A/V team for the first time is not when you’re in front of the crowd awkwardly waiting for them to troubleshoot the problem. Meet them in advance, test the microphone, run your presentation and check your Internet connection.

5)  Be Social. Today, there may be 200 attendees in front of you as well as 500,000 following along via social channels. As my esteemed colleague @LMokaba pointed out, it’s easy to tune in when you’re not at the event. Take advantage of this opportunity to grow and engage your social audience. For example, post conference pictures to Instagram, record a Vine or tweet using the conference hashtag, Twitter handles of co-presenters and updates on your own activity (e.g., “Honored to be sharing the stage with @person at #event to discuss #topic”).

6)  Watch the Clock. One of the most challenging elements of public speaking is time management. There is nothing worse for a conference coordinator than a speaker that runs over (or under) the allotted time. So if you’d like to be invited back, watch the clock. This takes practice, a stop watch, and an honest and realistic assessment of how much you can cover during your time on stage.

7)  Repurpose the Content. So the conference is over and your job is done, right? Nope. It’s actually your content (not the show) that must go on. Make the most out of the opportunity to continue to spread the word. Write a blog post summarizing the key points from the show and share via LinkedIn, post your deck to SlideShare and share a copy of your speech on your blog. Remember, at the end of the day, you have something important to share, so seize the opportunity and continue the conversation.

 

Topics: Content, InkHouse, Media Training, Public Relations

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