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Event experience | 18 March 2016

Presentation Tips Organizers Should Share With Speakers

Dan McCarthy

Whoever the guest speaker is, that person needs to have a certain amount of swagger in order to keep an audience engaged. A speaker who does nothing more than speak and show a few slides is not going to keep attendees on the edge of their seats.

Instead, event organizers should provide their speakers with a few tips to help them deliver amazing presentations. Afterall, most attendees are going to your event for high quality speakers and for networking opportunities. Great speakers not only help to educate and inspire attendees, they also help to energize event goers and to give them great conversation-starting material.

In short, you’re speakers need to deliver – share these presentation tips with them to make sure they do.

Crowdsource Content

Before you ever take the microphone to present, you should have spoken with attendees, or at least those who might have considered attending the event. Ask them about themes they might be interested in learning about, share part of the presentation you’re working on for feedback.

Read forums related to your presentation to understand the kinds of questions audience members will want to learn about.

The worst speakers are the ones who assume they know what attendees will want to hear, and are actually oblivious to the wants and needs of the audience.

Above, an example of Moz founder, Rand Fishkin, sharing one of his presentations with his Twitter audience. Undoubtedly, the many Twitter comments from followers will positively influence future presentations he builds.

Start With A Story

Providing an anecdote that audience members can relate to is a great way to create instant credibility and to form  a strong connection with attendees. The story a speaker tells needn’t be personal, an experience from a friend or colleague works just as well.

Some speakers may choose to tell the story of audience members instead, this might be a good idea if presenters want to show they are familiar with challenges faced by attendees, even if the presenter hasn’t faced those challenges personally.

Avoid Slides If Possible

When he was the CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs enforced a strict no slides policy within all management level meetings. Jobs prefered presenters to talk without aids. He felt that slides somehow enforced a sense of factualness regarding matters that were up for interpretation, he also felt that they limited creativity.

When the best speakers use slides as an aid, they do so to make simple and powerful statements. Avoid creating text heavy slides – keep them simple and clear. Whatever you do, try not to use a generic powerpoint template – attendees deserve better. One way to provide that is with a dedicated presentation maker.

Ask The Audience Questions

A lecture should never be a one-man presentation. Make the audience an active part of the lecture by asking them questions. These could be questions directed at the audience as a whole to get them to raise their hands in response to a question. You can even take it further and ask for an audience member to share a personal anecdote.

What you shouldn’t do, though, is point out someone at random to get him or her to speak. Some people do not like being involuntarily put on the spot.

Embrace Technology To Engage The Audience

There’s a school of thought among speakers and event planners that attendees shouldn’t be allowed to use their phone during a presentation.

This is a determinantal reactionary position to take. In order to reach event attendees, speakers must engage with them via technology.

That means that using interactive presentation tools like Glisser might be a great solution to grab attendees attention on stage and on screen. Alternatively, the speaker can enlist the help of a staff member to send live tweets during a presentation.

Using live-streaming services like Meerkat or Periscope might also be a good solution to engage attendees, and those who would have liked to attend but couldn’t.

A Few Last Words

Event speakers are one of the biggest variables that can multiply the positive or negative aspects of an event. If speakers are successful, they can educate and inspire attendees, and topics discussed in presentations can fuel networking sessions later on.

On the other hand, if speakers fail to deliver a presentation that is helpful for audience members, or that fails to engage attendees, it will leave some feeling as though the entire event has under delivered.

When speaking in front of an audience, be sure to crowdsource content to make sure that you’re on the right track when building a presentation. When it comes time to delivering, speakers should consider starting with a story. They should also avoid using slides if possible, and should instead engage the audience by asking questions and by embracing technology.

If you’re using an event networking app, engaging attendees is often a main priority. The problem for some is actually getting attendees to use the app in the first place. Grab a free eBook on event app adoption  by clicking the button below!

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