Presentation Tips: What You Need To Think Before You Speak
Presentation is everything. From the moment you enter an event until the moment you leave. When you are hired for an in person appearence it matters just as much what you say on stage as what you do off stage.
When you are presenting yourself at a conference here are some cardinal rules to live by:
1. Be Your Unique Self
You were already hired because of your amazing uniqueness. In combination with your individuality and what you bring, every event wants their show to stand out from the crowd. Attendees that go to one show are likely to attend two shows so if you have a topic make it unique for the audience and the event. Do your best not to use the same presentation everywhere. I know it’s more work but if you’re a professional speaker you are hired to bring your unique magic to the event. If you are speaking at different verticals ie a flower show and a show for internal CFO’s than that’s a different story you can use the same presentation just tailor it to the audience.
2. Always Be Grateful
The moment you step onto the stage thank the company or person that is hosting the show, thank the audience for what they have moved around in their life to attend (or the hours they have to get up to hear you.) There are a lot of conferences and shows out there that need speakers and there are a lot of people claiming to be speakers so event coordinators have a huge variety of choices and the fact they chose you is an honor. So make every interaction full of thankfulness. Also if you were not selected to speak this time be greatful. I know so many people that have “banned” conferences because they were not asked to speak. You never know what is going on behind the scenes, perhaps someone above them committed to a speaker that the coordinator had no control over, perhaps there is limited space, maybe they are focusing on different issues this year and you weren’t the right fit. Be gracious for being considered and wish them a fabulous event. I promise your positive attitude will stay in their mind.
3. Dress to Impress
No matter what the dress code of the conference dress up at least one step above that. You are on stage representing the companies decision. You need to show up with class, and not looking like you just woke up. Brush your hair, wear clean pressed clothes, and dawn a smile on your face. (This may seem like a no brainer but I have seen people present in ripped jeans and hair that was clearly not washed for over a week.)
4. Rehearse Like It Matters
It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or how good you are at speaking off the cuff. Rehearse so you have a stellar opening, fantastic points and transitions and an amazing closing. The best speakers are so rehearsed that it is natural and every word has deep meaning. There is no fluff. Rehearse in your car, in the shower, in the bathroom, while you’re putting make up on. Anywhere and everywhere. The more rehearsed you are the better prepared you are for those tech issues that always seem to happen at live events.
5. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Okay, this is meant not for when you’re speaking because we all know you do not drink before taking the stage:) When representing yourself as a speaker at social gathers during the event don’t drink or limit yourself to one social drink. It is not classy to be drunk at an event. You may feel you are bonding but trust me those that book speakers talk to each other and the word travels fast.
That’s right respect. Respect the venue, respect the host, respect the attendees. Don’t speak poorly of the event, your experience, your backstage experience. You will come accross as difficult to work with, even if your complaints are legitimate it will make someone think “Wow what if we hire her and make a mistake what will she say about us?” Know that every event is trying their best. If asked give feedback on things that you would like to suggest, but always say it with kindness and only to the coordinator that asks.
7. Mix and Mingle
Audience members love being able to see the speakers that are teaching them in the halls and in the expo hall. Make time to chat with people, connect on a deeper level and enjoy being a part of the overall event. It builds relationships, makes the host happy and you may find some great new friends. Never be too big to walk around unless you’re Oprah then I forgive you as you wouldn’t be able to make it three feet in an hour with the crowd:) But if you’re not Oprah then join the fun!!!!
Anytime I have the opportunity to speak I feel blessed. It’s an honor and I am truly happy that someone has given me the chance to shine. I don’t take it lightly and I would never phone it in as I want their event to be a success and I want my presence to add to that success. And anytime I take the risk of hiring a speaker for an event I pray that they feel the same way. It’s a risk hiring someone that is new to your event and you worry about the outcome of each session as your ultimate goal is to give the attendees the best event that keeps them coming back year after year.
If you’re a speaker or someone that hires speakers what other advice would you give to speakers starting out? Share below!