Conference Presentation Tips – 5 Tips

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5 Tips for Nailing Your Next Conference Presentation

It’s no secret that an effective conference presentation takes preparation and practice. Even experienced speakers need to bolster their presentations by designing impactful slides, engaging their audience, and rehearsing extensively.

Preparing to speak at a conference may take time, but the right approach will allow you to be efficient with your time while also maximizing your presentation results. The key to a productive and positive conference presentation lies in the groundwork you lay beforehand.

Our Be Brilliant conference presentation tips remove the guesswork from the process to set you on the path to success. First, we’ll walk through five best practices to prepare for an upcoming presentation:

  1. Do your research.
  2. Blueprint your presentation.
  3. Prepare your presentation materials.
  4. Determine how to engage your audience.
  5. Practice your presentation.

In the end, we’ll offer some bonus tips that highlight ways conference organizers can elevate their speakers’ content and contribute to a better event experience as a whole.

Adopting a solid preparation strategy for your conference presentation will go a long way to minimizing nerves and optimizing your performance so you can focus on what matters most—sharing your knowledge and educating your audience.

1. Do your research.

A high-quality conference presentation is informative, engaging, and memorable. As you prepare to share your expertise and exceed the expectations of your audience, be sure to do your research in advance so you know what you’ll be working with. For instance, if you’re speaking at a conference for nonprofit professionals, you’ll want your presentation to expand on their pre-existing knowledge, rather than reiterate what they already know.

Reach out to the conference host or content manager to learn about the audience segments that will be attending the conference and the overall conference theme. Seek their advice on what information they feel will be relevant to attendees. Find out if the conference facilities will be able to accommodate your technological requirements and clarify expectations on how much time you should spend speaking versus answering questions during your session. This information will help inform your decisions as you move forward with planning.

Consider the conference format

Although the qualities of an effective conference presentation are the same across in-person, virtual, and hybrid formats, you’ll need to adjust your preparation to achieve the best results.

If you’ve been invited to speak at a virtual or hybrid conference, use these questions to guide your presentation planning:

  • Will my conference presentation be pre-recorded or streamed live?
  • How can I include audience engagement strategies that will engage both my virtual audience and those in the room with me?
  • How should I adjust my body language and facial expressions?

Modern technology has led to the rise of online interactions and events, so it’s important to understand the nuances associated with virtual and hybrid formats in order to excel in them. In these situations, it can be highly beneficial to work with a presentation coach who will help you adapt your presentation skills to engage with both online and in-person audiences.

2. Blueprint your conference presentation.

Before you begin outlining your presentation in more detail, it’s crucial to figure out the initial building blocks for what you’ll say. The Be Brilliant blueprint outlines a simple and comprehensive process for planning your conference presentation’s core elements:

  1. Identify your presentation audience. Once you’ve done your research, you should have a more detailed understanding of who you’ll be addressing at the conference. Kick off your presentation plan by brainstorming how you’ll connect with your audience. For example, if you’re speaking at a business conference, you may be primarily addressing entrepreneurs seeking to learn new strategies and expand their professional networks, so tailor your presentation to their goals.
  2. Determine your main message and story. Piquing your audience members’ interest is one thing, but to maintain their engagement throughout your conference presentation, it’s key to have a compelling message and story. You’ll need to figure out how to go beyond purely presenting your information to communicating why it matters to your audience.
  3. Choose your presentation structure. Depending on your audience and the core concept of your presentation, determine how you’ll want to structure your presentation. The structure you select should effectively convey your information and guide your audience through your story.
  4. Establish a beginning, middle, and end point. At its roots, your presentation is a story told to educate your listeners. Therefore, it should feature the traditional components of an effective story—a beginning, middle, and end. Or, from a storytelling perspective—characters, their conflict, and the cure or resolution. If you’re presenting your research at a conference, you might walk through the background of your study, how you conducted it, any issues that arose along the way, what insights you’ve discovered, and how those insights will impact future decision-making. Once you have these three points figured out, it will be much easier to fill in the details.
  5. Strategize your ending. The ending of your conference presentation is your final opportunity to leave a lasting impression on your audience. To maximize your presentation’s impact, focus on delivering a Do-Remember-Feel ending that drives your audience to act, remember the information you’ve provided them, and feel motivated by their new knowledge after the conference.

Mapping out your conference presentation is a detailed but highly rewarding process in the end. Plus, it saves you tons of time when you start designing your slides. To make the most out of your blueprint, consider seeking help from a presentation coach who can provide an outside perspective and valuable advice on how best to present the information you’d like to share.

3. Prepare your presentation materials.

Once you have the foundational bones for an effective conference presentation, it’s time to fill in the details with slides and other visual elements. To set yourself up for success, Be Brilliant recommends that you start by sketching out what you’d like each slide to include. This way, you can figure out all of your main ideas for each slide before you even open your laptop to create them.

Remember, your presentation materials are more than just something for your audience to look at during the conference. Well-designed slides can transform an informative presentation into one that deeply engages your audience and boosts your credibility and authority.  

Though the more visual learners in your audience will especially appreciate the effort you put into your supplementary materials, a set of slides with clear points and appealing visuals will resonate with all conference attendees. Whether you’re working with a coach to storyboard your slides or doing them yourself, be purposeful about creating slides that will enhance your talk. Rather than distracting the audience, your slides should draw their attention toward you as you speak.

4. Determine how to engage your audience.

Your audience members each have unique needs and preferences when it comes to listening to a presentation. After conducting your research, you should already have a thorough understanding of their interests and general knowledge level on your topic. Before the conference, be thoughtful in your preparation and focus on the audience experience.

Accessibility and engagement are two essential priorities when it comes to delivering an effective conference presentation. In your slides, include visuals that are both eye-catching and simple. You want your audience to remember them and not get distracted from what you’re saying.

Additionally, consider incorporating helpful elements into your presentation to increase accessibility, such as:

  • A link or QR code at the bottom of your slides so audience members can access your materials on their mobile devices.
  • Closed captioning on your presentation slides and videos.
  • Printed handouts with larger fonts that can be passed out or accessed through the conference app.

The more you anticipate your audience members’ needs and preferences ahead of the conference, the more effectively you can tailor your presentation to achieve the best results possible.

5. Practice your presentation.

This image illustrates the three ways to practice your conference presentation described below.

Now that you’ve planned a stellar conference presentation that accounts for the audience experience and allows your expertise to shine, it’s time to get ready to deliver the presentation itself. Your impactful presentation materials provide an excellent foundation for your performance, so all that’s left is to convey your confidence and expertise in practice.

Before the conference, devote time to practicing your presentation until it feels comfortable and seamless. To make the most of your time, split your practice session to focus on improving different aspects of your presentation before putting it all together. Run through your presentation multiple times, separately perfecting:

  1. What you’ll say?
  2. How you’ll present your materials, engage the audience, and use technology.
  3. Your facial expressions, body language, and stage movement.

Once you’ve fine-tuned these elements of your conference presentation, practice everything all together. Consider speaking in front of a mirror, giving your presentation in front of friends and family, or recording yourself to gain more insights into what you’re doing well and where you could improve.

Polishing your performance ahead of time will reduce nerves, boost your confidence 10x, and allow you to focus on other important aspects of your presentation at the conference, such as how you’ll interact with the audience and answer their questions.

Bonus: How to organize and optimize a conference event experience

Ultimately, a successful conference relies upon the efforts of its speakers and the conference organizers. Therefore, it’s critical that everyone is on the same page to create a productive and positive experience for all involved. To help speakers give their best performance and deliver high-quality content to their attendees when they present, conference organizers should:

  • Share important information with speakers, such as the conference agenda and attendee details.
  • Provide tools and resources so presenters can adequately prepare in advance and know who to turn to for questions.
  • Offer a presentation development roadmap that specifies, for example, by what date should the rough draft be complete, what is the upload deadline, and when should you start practicing.
  • Provide training resources and coaching for all your speakers, not just your company executives.
  • Collect audience feedback after the event to make improvements at future conferences.

For high-stakes conferences, or if a newer team is planning a conference, organizers should consider enlisting the help of conference presentation coaching for all speakers. Dedicated experts, such as Be Brilliant’s coaches, can guide speakers in elevating their content and delivering effective conference presentations. This will ensure the entire conference is high-quality and memorable for the audience, a positive experience for speakers, and a nearly stress-free event to organize.

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