6 Tips for Conference Presentations

I am currently attending and presenting at a technology conference called PETE&C in Hershey, PA this week. A new presenter had asked me if I had any tips for engaging an audience. Here are some ideas:

1. Anyone Can Communicate, But Very Few Connect
Most people are very nervous when it comes to public speaking; however, investing a few moments of your time to make small talk and connect with people can pay dividends. It helps you relax a little more because you know a few more people than you did before. It allows your audience to be more patient with you when glitches or moments of imperfection happen.

2. Death by PowerPoint
Nothing is worse than watching someone read from a PowerPoint. Steve Jobs would throw people out of the board room for doing so. Suggestion: Don't put everything that you are going to say on your slides. What does this communicate? That you don't know your stuff.

I often use a TED Talk style, where text is outlawed for presentations within my classroom. Talk to your audience and use images to illustrate your point. Anyone can read text, but very few people can share your story.

3. Avoid Saying "I Hope it Works."
Technology glitches are going to happen, but try to avoid saying "I hope it works." This communicates that you are not very confident or you don't have a backup plan in place.

4. Assume Streaming Video Will NOT Work
Let's face it, the Wifi at many conferences is very spotty. Assume that playing a video clip will not work and use online video converters to have an electronic copy available. Video clips that don't work can annoy and frustrate your audience.

5. Leave Your Audience Better Than You Found Them
Nothing is more frustrating than leaving a presentation without resources or websites to investigate the topic further. If you don't have web design experience, you may want to consider creating a Google Doc and publishing it as a website. It's a quick and simple way of sharing resources with your audience.

6. Tap Into the Most Valuable Resource in the Room
Even though you are the "expert," try not to sound like a know-it-all because this often creates a barrier between you and your audience. Nothing is worse for an audience than listening to someone ramble on for an hour without having a chance to process and speak. Incorporate sharing information with a neighbor, talking as a group, and even having participants to share resources they use.

Although I am not perfect, I try to practice what I preach when I give presentations. Do you have any other presentation ideas? I would love to hear them!

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1 comment:

  1. This is all great advice, Matt! Once you get the audience feeling connected and engaged, the presentation gains a whole lot of credibility! Plus, when someone else is sharing, it will give you a chance to think ahead for your next step!


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