Speaker Series Part 2: How to Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Presentation

February 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm

After you have prepared (see Speaker Series Part 1: Preparing & Engaging), it’s time to create your presentation.  The most common mistake I see speakers make is focusing too much on themselves and their company.  However, the goal should not be to sell your company, product or service. It’s not about you, it’s about the audience!  Regardless of the conference topic, the goal should be to educate and inspire the audience.

How do you educate and inspire? The simple answer is to tell a story with examples, lessons learned, insights, successes, and failures. At BDI, we commonly use a specific case study approach because it’s easier to learn by example than through presentations with a broad, general scope. If your company is also a sponsor of the conference, it is normal to feel pressure to sell.   It’s understandable that your organization needs to achieve a reasonable return on its sponsorship investment. However, when you perform a sales pitch, it will backfire and attendees will see through it. They will become frustrated and tune you out. I would argue that it’s even more important to deliver an anti-sales or pro-educational message when your company is sponsoring an event versus when you are not. Your insights will serve as a magnet for attendees to connect with you and your company.

When it comes to your actual presentation use more graphics and less text.   The old cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true. I would add that a humorous or interesting picture is worth 100,000 words because it creates an emotional response from the audience. Here’s a link to a good example from John Havens (@JohnCHavens), one of our highest rated speakers: http://www.slideshare.net/bdionline/john-havens-presentation-bdi-102711-the-future-of-communications-featuring-the-bdi-all-star-speakers. In addition to thoughtful pictures, easy to read and understand charts/graphs are also very helpful. Attendees want to see proof that often comes in the form of data from studies. However, please make sure that the charts/graphs are legible. Too often, I see charts that have small font text descriptions that are rendered useless to the audience.

In the age of social media, sharing presentations during and after your performance must be planned for. Sites such as www.slideshare.net and www.twitter.com make sharing presentations and links very easy.  I believe it is necessary to create two versions of your presentation. The first is for the live audience and the second is for sharing after the event.  In the second presentation, there should be a lot more text, as the reader will not benefit from your live audio presentation.

Here’s another cliché that applies to presenting: “practice makes perfect”. I strongly encourage BDI’s presenters to rehearse. It is important that the timing and flow fits within the time limit allotted on the agenda. Too often, presentations are cut short and their impact diminished because the speaker runs out of time. In addition to timing, rehearsing is necessary so you feel confident with your presentation.

With all that said, the most important advice I can give to a presenter is to be yourself.  Let your natural personality come out during the delivery of your presentation.  It will make you more likeable to the audience; and, most importantly, you will be perceived as someone that the audience can relate to.

I would welcome additional tips, feedback, and advice through the comments section of this blog. Thanks for reading and best of luck presenting!

Stay tuned for the next topic in this series.  Click the Subscription button on the left to receive an e-mail when the next topic is posted.

Steve Etzler – Founder/CEO

Entrepreneur with experience in marketing, sales, business development, consulting and management. Thought leader about how technology impacts marketing and communications. Interested in the latest trends and opportunities in marketing, media, communications and technology.


Entry filed under: All Posts, by Steve Etzler, Speaker Series.

Sponsor Series Part 2: Devote Your Company Attendee Series Part 2: The Art of Interaction


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