Over the last 5 years, I had the opportunity to speak at many events and also listen to other incredible speakers. Through the experience, I often found myself adjusting my presentation style to ensure that I am providing the most value to every audience.
The first big event that I ever spoke at was at a conference that was filled with post secondary students. My topic was about personal development and I have to admit: I was extremely nervous! I was not sure if my ideas would sit well with the audience and if my communication style was a good fit for public speaking.
Instead of simply dwelling on ideas, I decided to share my own experience and explain how personal development has opened many doors for me.
After the presentation, I was very pleased to see many audience members line up to privately speak with me. The most memorable moment was when one of the students told me that that they wish they met me 3 years ago because this talk was exactly what they needed to hear. This was a conversation that I will never forget.
I wanted to share 5 tips that will help you create the same impact in your next presentation:
1 – Know Your Audience
It is important to know who you are speaking to and what they are hoping to gain from the event. Before speaking at any event, I like to reach out to the event planner and ask questions about the attendees.
If you are speaking at a digital marketing conference: you may want to speak about different website strategies to generate leads. However, this topic may not go over well if you are speaking to room full of post secondary professors that are hoping to learn about creative ways to engage their students. You never want to be the speaker that shows up to an event with the wrong topic!
2 – Share Personal Stories
People may not always remember facts and statistics, but they will always remember your story. Sharing your own experience allows you to create a personal connection with the audience that may not have been possible through a well-designed PowerPoint presentation. If you do this successfully, you will often be surprised by how many people remember your stories many years later.
Last week, I attended Sheridan College’s incredible Virox Future Forum event and had another opportunity to hear Darrell Keezer deliver a keynote presentation. Rather than just speaking about how social media can help you, he shared a story about how his kids successfully operated a lemonade stand by personally inviting friends and family through Facebook. With this, along with many other stories, he was able to create a visual that engaged everyone in the audience. The feedback he received was outstanding!
3 – Edutain! Edutain! Edutain!
One of my favourite made-up words ever! Edutain is a combination of educating and entertaining your audience. Having a mix of both ingredients will allow you to hold attention and share ideas that resonate with your audience. Your presentation should take the room on a journey that consists of laughter and ah-ha moments.
The worst feedback a speaker wants to hear is that they were boring. Jazz up your segment with some fun and thought provoking ideas. Your audience will thank you for it!
4 – Stay In Touch
Your interaction with the audience should not end after wrapping up the event. Stick around and get to know the crowd. This is your turn to become a good listener and get know their personal stories. You will often find that people will come up and let you know how much your talk benefited them.
Using the ‘I had no time’ excuse is not acceptable. With all the social tools you have now, it is easier than ever to reconnect with your audience members using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media tools. I usually write my @cmahfuz twitter handle on the board or slideshow to invite everyone to connect with me after the presentation. Build a relationship with your audience and learn from them.
5 – Continue Improving
If you rocked at your last event – congratulations! However, don’t let that stop you from looking for ways to improve and hit the next event out of the ball park. When your last few presentations go well, it is easy to take your foot off the gas and stick with old habits. Replay the last event in your head and listen to the feedback that was provided to you. This will help you make note of the ideas and stories that worked well with the audience and the ones that you can do without.
During many events, I would bring an audio recorder or ask a friend to film my presentation. This would make it easy for me to review my performance and look at opportunities for improvement.
The goal is to make your next talk your best talk!