Speaking at a public event is a daunting task. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it before, those pre-conference jitters almost always creep their way in before and during the big day. In the lead up to the event, the planning stages can be the most stressful. Caught in a whirlwind of securing the perfect venue and finalising all the little details, planning a conference is definitely an undertaking – no matter what the scale.
What does it take though, to be a great speaker? Is it presence that oozes confidence, the pre-prep beforehand or the captivating journey they take you on? We delve into the secrets revealed by experts to a glitch-free event and how you can bring out the conference speaker in you. So, take a deep breath, grab a Chamomile tea and read our guide to delivering a flawless conference.
1. Define the Purpose and Key Objectives
According to Dean Webster, Event Manager in WA, it’s imperative you define what will drive your conference first. “Successful conference planning isn’t just in the managing of supplies, budget control, selecting the right venue and delegation tasks”, Webster says. “The first question you should ask is yourself is what the purpose and key objectives for the conference is. Once you’ve established an understanding of the event’s purpose, the audience and desired outcomes are revealed and the real planning can commence. Having this understanding prior will also provide you with the key indicators for measuring the return on investment”, he says.
To help define the purpose and key objectives of the conference, find the answers to the 5 W’s. Consider the reasons for the event (why), the type of event you want to run (what), preferred venue (where), the date of the event (when) and how many attendees you’ll need to invite (who). By ensuring you have a clear understanding of all internal expectations, the rest of the planning stages can fall into place much easier.
2. Limit the Scope for Your Audience
Many conferences and business events can have the tendency to drag on. Bombarded with dry speeches and unexciting visuals, it’s no wonder a conference like that would be unsuccessful. One of the biggest pitfalls in conference planning and presentations is having too much information for your audience to process. Not only does it lead to severe boredom, but your audience will be quick to lose focus and become fidgety.
Brett Tabke, Founder of Pubcon and professional conference speaker, stresses the importance of a presentation that holds people’s attention. “Limit the scope. Too broad a topic loses attendees’ interest”, he says. “Data in visualised form, like case studies with pretty charts and graphics will help hold people’s attention too”.
There is though, a fine line between using visual data to capture your audience and boring them with excessive PowerPoint slides. “The visuals are an aid and not the main part of your presentation. You are the centrepiece of your presentation”, Tabke says. “Too many speakers hide behind their PowerPoint and don’t get out in front of it”. By creating a presentation that can confidently appeal to your audience, there will be less need for those pre-conference jitters!
3. Communicate Effectively with Everyone Involved
Communication is the most vital part of any business event or conference. No doubt, the obvious point of the conference is to communicate a message to the audience and implement action points after but what about before the event? Between all moving parts of the event, strong levels of communication will confirm everyone is on the same page. Remember, you can never communicate enough!
“My essential tip to help reduce pre-conference nerves is to ensure you communicate effectively with everyone in the lead up to the event”, stresses Dean Webster.
“A conference planner may have to manage a large number of supplies to deliver to the event, so I would recommend you check in with each supplier a number of times to confirm they have a full understanding of what is expected of them and when”, Webster says. “Once you have done this, you’ll feel much happier and be able to focus on leading the event on the day”.
Throughout the conference, keep the communication levels entertaining by avoiding a monotone voice. Practice using a voice that’s expressive and steady. Communication doesn’t just come in the verbal form either – consider your body language during the conference too. Too much pacing can be distracting and indicate a sign of nerves, but you don’t want to hide behind the podium either. Move across the area in between brief pauses to establish a connection with the audience and make eye contact with as many people possible. This will help you feel (and look) more confident and comfortable.
4. Tell a Story that’s Compelling and Create that ‘Aha’ Moment
According to John Burgher, Marketing Director at Criterion Conferences stories that are compelling work better. “Stories help your audience feel and see what you’re saying, as opposed to just reading off your cue cards”, he says. “By telling a story you’ll create something that will be more easily remembered”.
“Put the X-factor into your presentation by creating an ‘aha moment’”, says Burgher. “By doing this, you’ll drive home the main part of your presentation in the most memorable way. This is what people will talk about when they go back to the office”.
With adequate planning, an exciting presentation and a defined scope for your audience, you’ll be able to feel more confident with the conference. Practice makes perfect, and even the best conference speakers will experience a small dose of nerves but with these tips you’ll feel more comfortable in no time.
About the Author:
Jayde Ferguson writes for Venues West, who have a diverse range of conference rooms across Perth ideal for your next event.