11 Tips To Make Your Conference Presentation Outstanding
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The world of conferences are great opportunities for like-minded individuals to come together and share their common denominator interest with one another.
Conferences provide attendees with an opportunity to learn and share with others who share similar experiences or interests all under one roof. Conferences are usually large in nature bringing people from across the country, or even across the world, together.
If you find yourself presenting at an upcoming conference, the honest truth is the stakes are high. Oftentimes, conferences have a lot of people in attendance. When you have your moment to shine to share your presentation with a large crowd of audience members, you want it to go flawlessly.
Truthfully, so do we.
That’s why we’ve put together this in-depth blog post to help you navigate the world of conferences and how to master your conference presentation with 11 actionable tips.
Are You Presenting At An Upcoming Conference? We Should Talk
What Are Conference Presentations?
First, let’s get an understanding of what a conference presentation is.
A conference presentation is an opportunity for people to communicate with a large audience of like-minded individuals typically congregating around a common interest or topic.
A conference can vary in length from a one, full day event, all the way up to a week-long program. Conferences are usually a great opportunity for these like-minded individuals to network and learn from one another on new topics, research or major events.
Now that we know what a conference is, there are several common types of conferences you might encounter during your professional career.
Let’s take a look at the common types of conferences below.
Common Types Of Conferences
Although these are some of the common types of conferences you’ll encounter, this isn’t a fully finalized list. There are more types of conferences than simply what’s mentioned below.
However, you’re more than likely to encounter one of the following whether you’re just entering the industry, a student who’s networking or even if you’re passionate on a certain topic and like to be involved in the community.
Academic conferences are opportunities for researchers to present their work with fellow peers and colleagues. They’re important because they provide an opportunity for academics from multiple institutions to connect at a single location and network.
Academic conferences can be divided further into professional conferences. Professional academic conferences are geared more towards professors and academics who have spent more time in their field of study such as social sciences or medicine.
On the other hand, undergraduate programs may still hold conferences for academia but these are more geared towards undergraduate students who might just be sharing their semester research presentation.
You might be thinking to yourself, “This just sounds like a research presentation.”
Although you’re not wrong, you’re only partly right.
Research presentations are only one part of the overall academic conference. An academic conference is a combination of multiple research presentations combined into one event. You might have multiple academics speaking at a conference sharing their research presentations, but one does not equal the other.
Annual General Meetings
Shifting gears to the more business side of things, another form of conferences are annual general meetings.
Annual general meetings, or AGM for short, are typically mandatory, yearly gatherings of a company’s interested shareholders which might consist of investors and employees.
At an AGM, directors of a company share with the shareholders the annual report which covers key topics of interest to the shareholders. These key points might include the company’s financial performance, quarterly reports, upcoming yearly vision, plans for expansion, the company’s performance and strategy.
Shareholders who have voting rights often vote on current issues facing the company and which direction the company should pursue. Some of these decisions might include who is to be appointed onto the board of directors, what executive compensation will be, dividend payments and the selection of auditors.
Like most conferences, conventions are large meetings consisting of people with a share ideology or profession. You often hear of conventions in terms of entertainment or politics.
On the entertainment side of things, conventions are gatherings where people of the same interest come together to network and immerse themselves in the unifying experience of enjoying the same things as those around you. Some notable conventions you might’ve heard of are Comic Con, Fan Expo and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Here, you’ll find people sharing a mutual enjoyment of entertainment indulgences.
Political conventions or Party Conferences are the other form of conventions you’ll often hear about.
These are often held by the respective political party where members of said political party come together to network and most importantly, vote on a party leader or delegate.
The smallest form of a conference you’ll encounter is a press conference.
A press conference is an organized event to officially distribute information from a specified spokesperson. Unlike other public relation tactics such as a press release which is still a tool to disseminate information to the public, a press conference is an alternate public relation tactic where media is selectively invited to attend the event to get the information.
Press conferences are often smaller in size due to the shrinking landscape of media outlets. Additionally, press conferences are usually high-stake events usually having highly notable individuals in attendance or presenting. To limit the risk and maximize the safety of these VIPs, press conferences are usually more exclusive.
This is why press conferences are often reserved for bigger news stories and why journalists who are new to the industry try very hard to get on the good side of these conference organizers. Due to the sheer exclusivity of the event, the opportunity to get a unique news story is greater.
The last conference we’ll go over is a product launch.
A product launch, much like a press conference, is another great public relations tactic used to build anticipation and gain the buy-in of the public. They are a coordinated effort to demonstrate new products soon to be released to the general public.
Famous product launches can be seen executed by the world’s top companies such as Apple, Tesla and Disney.
These companies often use product launches to garner attention for an upcoming line of products that will soon be available to the public. The main goal of product launches in recent years is to drive pre-order sales which help raise capital to bring the product development over the finish line without needing to expend any further owned-capital of the company.
Conference Presentation Tips
No matter the conference you find yourself attending and more than likely presenting at, conference presentation tips remain the same. You can apply the following 11 important points to any conference.
With some slight adjustments to each, you’ll soon be a master of conference talk, being able to command any large room of people and retain the audience’s attention with ease.
1 - Do Your Homework
Before you begin putting together your conference presentation slide deck, you need to first do your homework. With any good finalized product, it got that way thanks to the preparation which went into it ahead of time and your presentation is no exception.
What you might want to consider doing before you begin putting together your slide deck is answering the following questions and drafting an outline.
What key message do you want the audience to take away after the presentation?
What do you want them to feel?
How do you want them to act?
Can I achieve these results with the information I already have?
By asking yourself these questions and acting appropriately based on the answer, you’ll be setting yourself up for a good presentation.
2 - Understand Your Audience
Knowing your audience isn’t just about who they are, it’s about understanding what they’re interested in, how they retain information and what motivates them.
Understanding your audience is the first step of mastering presentation psychology and without it, you won’t have a strong foundation for your presentation. You could have the most visually appealing presentation but if it doesn’t resonate with the audience, it won’t matter.
So before you go ahead and start building a presentation based on what you think your audience is interested in, you should really come to a solidified conclusion and know what your audience is interested in.
3 - Know Your Timing
Presentations range in different lengths. You’ll encounter presentations as short as one minute to others that last over an hour. Start preparing your presentation by knowing what your time limit is.
You can typically find this information out by contacting an organizer of the conference.
4 - Use Visual Aids
Visual aids are tools to help you communicate visually.
Some presentation visual aids you might want to consider using are graphs, tables, pictures and videos. If you really want to be seen as an expert presenter, you should even be focusing on the colors you use for your slides.
Now, it might seem like you need a creative degree to master all this, but the reality is you don’t. Luckily, you can outsource your presentation design to a presentation design agency like Presentation Geeks who not only create top-tier presentation slide decks used by Fortune 500 companies, they also can provide presentation consulting services.
Don’t forget, you yourself are a visual communication tool as well. Be sure to dress appropriately for your upcoming conference presentations because you want to make a good impression. Let’s take a political convention as an example. If you’re running as a candidate to be the leader of a major political party, you want to make sure you peak the audience’s interest and gain their trust by dressing appropriately as superficial as that sounds.
5 - Keep It Simple
Don’t overcomplicate your presentation, especially the slide deck.
It’s crucial to keep your presentation, especially the visual aids portion as simple as possible because too much information will confuse the audience and they will likely forget what you’ve said.
Focus on the key details in your slides and use them as supplementary tools. Many presenters will think they need to have a grand conference presentation with fancy technology, transitional devices and other outlandish tactics. The reality is, you want your information to be easily understood by keeping it simple.
6 - Practice, Practice, Practice
The way to become a better presenter is through practice.
You want to ensure you command the room with your confidence. You won’t be doing that if you’re reading from a paper aloud.
You need to ensure you’re confident. Practice your conference presentation multiple times and consider recording yourself as you do. You’ll pick up on your body language and analyze how well you’re using your body language to communicate what you’re saying. Scan the audience and share your eye contact with everyone. Don’t forget to speak clearly and slowly
7 - Prepare For The Worst
Murphy’s Law states that what can go wrong, will go wrong. You should keep this theory in the back of your mind and expect the worst to happen.
Just because the worst can and probably will happen, doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution. That is why you need to prepare for the worst.
You should be able to present all your conference presentations if the venue changes at the last minute, if you don’t have the technology you were expecting to use, if you forgot your handouts like a conference paper. You should be prepared for the worst but have a solution.
8 - Know Your Space
Let’s say your fortunate, which you probably will be, and the venue doesn’t change last minute. That’s great! Use this to your advantage and get familiar with your space.
Ahead of your conference presentations, you should go and scope out the area you will be presenting to get an idea of how you can walk around, what technology will be present, what the lighting will be light, etc.
There are so many areas of concerns and unknowns that can be addressed by doing a little bit of field assignment homework ahead of time.
9 - Go Beyond The Slides - Engage Your Audience
An audience will more likely remember what you have to say and feel connected by being engaged.
You can engage your audience by targeting more senses of the human body. If you only target their auditory and visual senses, you’ll eventually lose them. Walk through the crowd if you can. Have the audience move their necks, stretch and move!
10 - Get The Audience To Participate By Encouraging Questions
Good presenting is one-way communication.
Excellent presenting is two-way communication.
Another way to go beyond the slides and your one-way presentation speech by giving an opportunity for the audience to ask further questions.
This is not only beneficial to the audience to help them get a better understanding of your topic, but it will also help you to answer questions.
It gets you to reflect on your presentation from an angle you might not have thought of before. Out of all the questions audience members will ask, there is usually one or two awe-inspiring questions that get even the presenter to take a moment to reflect.
Use these moments to better your presentation for the future.
11 - Evaluate & Refine
Speaking of making your presentation better for the future, remember to evaluate and refine your presentation and presentation skills.
A true master of any profession or skill knows they truly aren’t a master because learning never stops. You should take the same ideology and apply it to your own presentation skills.
Whether it’s self-reflection or a survey of the audience after your conference presentation, try and evaluate how well you presented and refine your future presentation based on the presentation feedback you received.
The summary of everything mentioned above if applied correctly will result in your being a master of conference presentations. The great thing about these techniques is they can be applied to any type of conference presentation.
Not only that, but if you understand the basic fundamentals of presenting, you can begin exploring other realms of presentations. To really take your presentation skills to the next level, enlisting the help of a presentation design agency such as Presentation Geeks will help you surpass the competition.