Want to achieve presentation success in-person or virtually?
Want your audience to pay attention and engage with your talk?
Of course, you do!
Regardless of venue, real life or virtual, ever notice how certain speakers always deliver a great presentation while others read their slides?
At a major industry conference, I attended a presentation by a highly paid speaker. This bestselling author paced back and forth, rarely looking at the audience for the entire talk. At predetermined spots, he dropped the sponsor’s name if his talk was a Mad Lib. As I listened, I wondered how many times he had given the same exact speech.
Regardless of where you’re speaking and who your audience is, you’re an integral part of the presentation. To succeed, you need to impart knowledge so your audience can grasp it within your timeframe. So they leave feeling they learned and felt something from your presentation.
As a form of content marketing, the goal of your presentation is to establish you and your organization as an expert and influencer. Therefore make it a promotion-free zone.
Use these steps to create and deliver a killer preso that supports your content marketing goals.
How Do You Create Presentation Success?
Presentation success consists of more than stepping onto the stage regardless of whether it’s live or virtual. So follow each of the steps outlined to get the most out of your speaking opportunity.
How Do You Prepare A Presentation Your Audience Will Love?
Since many conferences ask speakers to submit proposals, presentation success depends on aligning your session description with your talk. Or, attendees may feel you didn’t deliver on your promise. So pay attention to these initial presentation activities.
- Select a presentation topic that excites you. Understand what the conference is about and how your presentation fits into the program. Know who your audience will be, why they’re attending the event, and what their pain points are. To succeed, make your presentation communicate, not promote your company.
- Write the presentation brief. Create a short description about the presentation. Include a sexy title to lure people in with 3 key takeaways. Give your audience red meat information they seek, not buzzwords.
- Outline your talk. While these conversations and ideas are fresh in your mind, create the structure for your presentation.
- Integrate a story into your presentation. Stories enhance the value of your presentation because they put your information in context so attendees can remember it. Also, your talk must hold together as one entity, not a group of unrelated slides.
- Provide your bio to the conference or event organizers. Use this space to promote your authority and ensure that it’s aligned with the theme of the conference. Keep it short and relevant. Also include your photograph and relevant social media handles.
- Check the dates and location to make sure you’re available. Also make any related travel arrangements.
How Do You Develop A Killer Presentation?
Create quality content for a successful presentation.
- Focus on audience needs. Organize your points so they make sense and are easy-to-grasp.
- Limit each slide to one key point or example. Don’t clutter your slides.
- Develop the easy parts first. Build the easy slides first and fill placeholders later. If you use information from another presentation, change it to make it feel fresh to people who may have seen it the first time.
- Create slides easy-to-consume with images and examples. Translation: Provide enough text to convey your message. But don’t make your talk unnecessary. Also, keep the text large enough with enough contrast to be read from the back of the room. Use a minimum of 24 point typeface.
- Add branding to your presentation. Use colors, typeface and other elements to represent your business. While many conferences prove a template, at least add your company name or hashtag and your Twitter handle.
- Encourage social media sharing. Include the show’s hashtag and your Twitter handle. Make them stand out and readable. Also, create pre-formed tweets with shortened URLs. Pro-tip: Schedule relevant tweets in advance using the show’s hashtag.
- Make your presentation storyline clear to your intended audience. Does the structure of the talk make sense? Also check facts, grammar and spelling. Then eliminate redundant points and slides.
- Have someone edit your slides. Check for copyediting, data reliability and timing.
How Do You Prepare For Presentation Success?
Presentation success depends on what you do before you get to the stage.
- Practice giving your talk. Plan what you want to say for each slide but, they aren’t the focus, you are. Bear in mind that speakers often add more words when they actually present. So check your timing so you observe your time limit to respect your audience’s time.
- Use your slides as a secondary source to illustrate your points. Don’t read them! They’re not a substitute for your talk.
- Plan what you’ll wear when you present. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes so you feel good. This is where clothes make the (wo)man. At Content Marketing World, I substituted my leather biker jacket for my conventional suit to be in line with their rock and roll theme. I was surprised at how empowering it felt.
- Bring the technology you need. To ensure the technology of your presentation works, bring your own computer, power supply, and other accessories your system needs. Also, have another copy of your presentation on a thumb drive or chip so you can give it to the tech support. (BTW, I have needed these supplies at many presentations!)
- Be prepared to adapt to the actual conditions. While no one plans to have problems, real life conditions may have factors beyond your control. So consider how you’ll respond to hurdles while you’re giving your talk.
How Do You Make Your Presentation Memorable To Build Relationships?
Follow these steps to ensure game day presentation success.
- Get the lay of the presentation stage. If possible, check out the venue and stage the day before.
- Arrive early for your presentation. Allow time in case of traffic or other delays.
- Watch the presentation before yours. This allows you to get a feel for the audience and to reference other information in your talk.
- Use a couple of level setting questions. Get an idea of who is in the room so that you can select relevant examples. It also helps you get a feel for the audience. But don’t let these questions take over for your presentation or people will start tweeting about how bad the talk is.
- Create a special offer at the end of your presentation. Give your audience another piece of content or other useful reference.
- Share your presentation.While I appreciate your desire to maintain control over your content, the reality is with smartphones and tablets attendees will take images of anything they want to remember. Of course, make sure the show doesn’t keep your presentation behind a password protected site.
Presentation Success Case Study: Content Marketing World
At Content Marketing World 2013 in Cleveland, I presented a session, titled, “21 Tips & Tricks Guaranteed To Make Your Content Marketing More Effective In 45 Minutes.”
How Did I Create Presentation Success?
- Selected session title to grab attendees’ attention at a time when lots of other competing options.
- Used the content marketing cycle to structure my talk and give it a story. I incorporated music related images in line with the conference’s rock and roll theme. I filled in points where needed to create a natural story flow Also I added examples and data points. (These were some of the most tweeted parts of my presentation.) Each slide referenced the data points and photo credits. To tell where I was in the talk, I used different looking section slides.
- Made the presentation social media-friendly. Beyond including the event hashtag and my Twitter handle, I set up a series of presentation related tweets. Also, I let my followers know about the presentation so they could anticipate the added activity.
- Created related content based on my presentation.
- Made a special offer of an orange cowl, Content Marketing World’s brand color, to the audience. The room monitor collected attendees’ cards and drew one winner.
- Sent a post-event follow up email to attendees who gave me their business cards.
Presentation Success Conclusion
Presentations are a major piece of content that build your credibility in your field and enable you to engage with people either in real time or virtually. Maximize your efforts by creating additional content and interacting with your audience.
Take the time to create a killer presentation. It takes work to make it look easy but it’s well worth it.
This article was originally published on October 11, 2013 under the title, 17 Steps to Live Presentation Success [Case Study]. It has been significantly updated and revised. The new version was published on September 13, 2021.
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Microphone and seats: https://pixabay.com/photos/microphone-it-lecture-entry-sound-2775447/ cc zero
People listening to talk: https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-sitting-on-gang-chairs-2774556/ cc zero
Heidi Cohen at Content Marketing World 2013: Courtesy of Paul Roetzer