Here is how to put together the perfect conference presentation
When attending a conference, one instantly evaluates the speakers and the presentations. If we were captivated by the speaker’s style and preparation, we possibly leave with a positive feeling and some very useful, memorable experiences. But if there were gaps in the speaker’s knowledge, there was a problem with the technique, it can make the overall experience disappointing.
As a presenter, you have to pay attention to a lot of details. You can have an impact on the audience with your look, your style and time management skills as well. If you give a good presentation, your professional career can also kick off and you might get more invitations in the future.
So how can you become a professional presenter who is a joy to listen to and who even the toughest critic cannot argue with? Find out more from our article!
At a traditional in-person or online conference the speaker faces the audience all by themself. This means that they need to have very strong presentation skills, need to be fully prepared in order to answer occurring questions, and need to have a very useful presentation put together.
A podium talk is all about one specific theme. In this type of event there are a few guest speakers on the stage simultaneously who discuss the topic in detail, with the help of the presenter who manages the conversation. This requires high knowledge of the topic, and also strong communication skills.
A round table discussion is less formal than the above mentioned events. It is highly based on personal experiences and stories. The moderator or presenter’s task is to keep the conversation flowing in a predetermined way, so it won’t be chaotic or impossible to follow for the listeners.
A workshop typically requires knowledge to be passed on to dozens of people who are interested in the theme. The key skills in these kinds of events are time management and confident professional knowledge. Trainings are typically smaller sessions, but both genres include interactive elements.
The panel leader is a true multifunctional participant in the conversation. Their main job is to lead the event professionally and to function as a kind of leader. They will also need to moderate and briefly summarize the panel at the end of the day and evaluate what has been said.
Characteristics of a successful conference presentation
- Professionally impeccable
Your presentation can only be a success if it’s professionally impeccable. Your aptitude and readiness are guaranteed to be checked by the organizers before being asked. In order to stand the proof, it is essential that you have references, recommendations, previous lectures and publications in reputable newspapers.
It’s best to be able to present some previous lectures on video, as this can test not only your professional credibility but also your presentation skills. As an expert in your field, it is important to be aware of the latest research findings and trends as well.
You need to find a topic for a conference presentation that is fresh, exciting, and preferably not a broken record. Being relevant also means that your presentation fits into current scientific, research trends and provides answers to existing problems that have been researched by many people. Also, make sure you check out what publications and lectures exist on your topic so you can avoid duplicating others.
- Fun and interesting
No matter how fresh and important your topic is, if you can’t present it in an engaging way, it most definitely won’t make you stand out at a conference. Listing dry facts, giving endless details of research results is more of a publication than an exciting lecture. You can try and bring some humor into your lecture, but also be aware that it should not become stand up comedy.
It is best to learn from experienced presenters: pay attention to what they use in their presentations. Teaching in a fun and engaging way is a big challenge, but you can master this skill and find your own voice with lots of practice.
- Clear for everyone
At any conference you should convince the audience of your expertise on even the most complex topic. However, you should also keep in mind that there may be people in the audience who are not proficient in your field.
In order for your presentation to be both professional and understandable, you need to follow a few rules. Try to shed light on the main point with clear examples and analogies. Watch the reaction of the audience. If you see that they can’t keep up with your presentation, take some time to explain the part that is causing them difficulty.
You should always involve your audience during a presentation. This will make them more interested, and they will most likely remember the majority of information you shared. The easiest way to engage your audience is to provide opportunities for them to ask questions.
You can also engage the audience by giving them a puzzle, which will make them think actively together. Icebreaker games and some movement also can uplift the spirits of the listeners.
- Interactive, visual
If you put together your presentation based on text only, it can get boring after a while, so you also need visual elements. A digital poster can improve a conference presentation, and if you would like to spice it up a bit more, hire a graphic designer!
Interactivity is also a great skill to maintain interest. You can even place links to videos and other studies in your presentation, and there are endless oceans of interactive possibilities with online conferencing to try out as well.
Criteria for a good conference speaker
Becoming a good presenter can depend on many different things, such as the type of the conference. A professional presenter should be able to adapt to the expectations and even acknowledge the reaction of the audience during the event.
As a speaker, you have a big responsibility, as you have to present yourself, your research, and, where appropriate, the work of your colleagues or the institution that supports you. So let’s see what are the main characteristics of a good conference speaker!
Whether it’s an online or offline conference, your look should be impeccable and suitable for the event. Of course, this does not necessarily mean you need to wear a tuxedo or prom dress: business casual style is also accepted.
Be careful not to shout, but don’t talk too quietly and slowly either, and articulate as nicely (and naturally) as you can. Speech also includes body language, which is often more important than the spoken word, so make sure you pay attention to that as well!
It’s important to be as authentic as possible, but in a professional way. Would you like to share a personal story, surprise the audience with an unexpected start, or decorate your presentation with quotes as little Easter-eggs for the audience? It’s up to you!
You can always choose a classic structure, but with a surprising structure you can really engage your audience. Try and ask something from them first, or give them an interesting puzzle!
- Maintaining attention
A good conference speaker will be able to maintain interest until the end of the event. With a 10-minute option, it’s not as big of a challenge, but for a longer presentation, you already have to combine the above mentioned elements.
Your presentation is a visual support for your lecture, that’s why you need to adapt to your style. Feel free to add some personality to it, to shake up any boring visual presentation file. However, it is worth avoiding unnecessary and inappropriate animations, because they will only distract the audience from the point.
- Time management
A professional performer is like a watch: always on time. This way you know exactly how much time you have and can allocate the available time to fit your audience questions in.
- Common mistakes
The most typical mistake beginners make is that they want to share too much information, and the material is not enjoyable and very detailed. Of course, it’s hard to pay attention to everything, but try not to present a monologue: involve the audience, and make eye contact.
Was your presentation a success?
Do you ever wonder how the audience found the performance? Well, ask them! It is great if you put together an online form where you can evaluate what they experienced. It’s important to know what you consider a success, and to be able to accept any criticism.
These days we don’t even have to get out of our rooms to learn the tricks from the best performers in the world. Watch and learn from them, and use this opportunity to become the presenter you want to be in the future: professional, fun, entertaining, interesting, engaging and involving!
Picture: Daniel Vegel