How to present with a bang!
Remember, remember, the 5th of November…
Better yet, remember the 15th and 29th November instead.
If you have a great idea for a talk relating to content strategy, then we would love to hear from you. Worried about public speaking? Never presented before?
Fear not. We can help.
We have previously shared our tips on public speaking with confidence. We would now like to offer our tips for presenting with a bang, lighting up the conference, sparkling behind the lectern, firing on all cylinders, being a whizz on stage…
And other tenuous firework references.
1. Craft masterful slides
Slides are very important. Around two-thirds of people are visual learners, which means they will digest the content of your talk better if they can see it. Photography, infographics, diagrams, graphs, videos – use these tools to communicate your points.
And make each slide count. Take time and care on the design. Consider fonts, colours, positioning, and image quality. Often, less is more. A considered, simple approach will resonate with the audience. Certainly, never overstuff a slide with words and show restraint with the gimmicky animations.
For an example, you could view my slides from CASE Europe Annual Conference 2019. These put the above recommendations into practice. I love pink.
2. Hook ‘em
Start strong. Don’t shuffle on stage and mumble, “Right, it’s probably time that we make a start,” or “Okay, well, hello, good morning, my name is…
You can do better than that. Be bold. Ditch the preamble. Launch immediately into killer content. You could grab their attention with a story, unveil a prop, or ask the room a question.
Treat your opening minutes like the pre-credits sequence in a Bond film. Something stand-out always happens before the title and actor names are flashed across the screen. Take the same approach. Excite your audience, lure them to the edge of their seat, and then, and only then, should you introduce yourself.
3. Ditch your lectern
Abandon the lectern. It is a barrier between you and your audience. And static presenting is boring to watch. Instead, march across the stage. Move around the room. Command the space at your disposal. All that movement, all that dynamism, will provide you and your words with an energy that will captivate every person in attendance. Purposeful movement can even help you combat nerves.
4. Cast aside your notes
Notes aren’t a good look. You shouldn’t be looking at a script or cue cards during a talk. They undermine your credibility, invite you to break eye contact with your audience, and tempt you to read from them directly, resulting in a flatness of tone. If you need written reminders of your presentation, then you don’t know your presentation well enough. The solution is practice. Not notes.
“Life is like a mirror,” says author Bryant H. McGill. “Smile at it and it smiles back at you.”
Audiences are like a mirror too. Smiling will make them feel more welcome and comfortable. Consequently, they will smile back at you, helping you feel more at ease in return. There is also something more captivating about a speaker who appears to be enjoying themselves.
6. Variety of voice
Speaking clearly at a good volume might be a given. However, the variety of your voice is equally important. The more variation in your voice the better – whether it be speed, timbre or pitch – because it keeps the audience on their toes. Julian Treasure explains further in his fantastic TED talk on speaking with impact.
If you neglect variation, then your voice could border on monotonous and the audience will be lulled into a doze. Weather forecasters, news readers and radio DJs have nailed it. You must too.
And please remember to pause. A couple of seconds of silence whilst you sip your water won’t cost you your audience. It will give them time to process what you have just said. Silence is golden.
7. The lighthouse method
You need to present to the whole audience. More your head left to right, right to left, much like the rotating light at the top of a lighthouse. Make eye contact with all corners of the room, so nobody in your audience feels left out. There are endless advantages to eye contact, not least of all maintaining your audience’s rapt attention.
8. Deliver good content
Solutions, takeaways, life hacks, a different outlook – people want to leave your talk with more knowledge, more inspiration, than when they entered. In the planning stage, constantly question what value you are offering to your audience. Pack in the helpful content. Set learning outcomes and deliver them. All killer, no filler.
9. End strong
A strong ending is just as important as a strong beginning. You need to leave your audience feeling satisfied that their time has been well-spent. Ultimately, you are concluding your story, and you can gain lots of inspiration from classic story-telling structures.
Grab their attention. Much like your opening, you need to hook their interest in the final minutes of your talk, just in case a few of them have nodded off, or started gathering their bags to sprint to the next session. Tell a story. Bring in a quote. Conclude a mystery that you teased in your opening. If you have a call-to-action, then this is the time to deliver it.
The work doesn’t end when your session is over. Take a moment to make some quick notes on your performance: what would you change, which jokes worked well, which questions you struggled to answer, and so on. Self-reflection whilst the talk is still fresh in your mind will ensure you have valuable steps to action when planning your next talk.
Equally, digest any feedback gathered by your conference organisers. Learn from the comments given. This will ensure that your next presentation makes an even bigger bang!
We would love to see you put the above advice into practice at one or both of our content strategy conferences, Utterly Content and ContentEd, taking place in 2020. The deadlines to submit a speaker proposal are 15 November and 29 November, respectively. We look forward to hearing from you.