Many speakers at conferences give a standard pre-packaged presentation. They prepare it in advance and give a competent performance but they miss the chance to really connect with the audience. Good speakers will research the event and audience in advance and will tailor their talks to include their most relevant stories, examples and messages. But there is still much more you can do to make your talk topical, pertinent and engaging. Try these six ideas:
- Research the location of the event on Wikipedia and see if there is any unusual fact or famous celebrity from there. See if you can construct a connection between that item and your talk – preferably in a humorous way.
- Watch and read the news on the day of your talk and see if there is a relevant story that you can work into your pitch to make it more current and topical.
- Mix with the delegates before the event begins and ask them about their issues and challenges. You can then refer to this in your talk as an introduction to one of your key messages. ‘Before the conference began today I was talking to Jim Jones of XYZ Corp and he told me that ……..’
- Listen to any speakers who come on before you and refer back to one or two of their messages in your talk. It provides a link for the audience, compliments the other speakers and shows that you were listening.
- Ask the audience a question. Listen carefully. Repeat some of the answers you hear before responding to them and working the ideas into your talk. This shows great confidence and presence. It also engages the audience.
- Improvise. As relevant comments occur to you include them. Link in to any feature of the room or conference which stands out. Drop any material in your talk which you now sense is weaker or less relevant to the audience. Spend more time on the topics which you find they are interested in.
If you make your talk more spontaneous and topical you will stand out from the other speakers with their standardized pitches. You will entertain and enliven the audience. You will give a better presentation.
More great tips in this ebook for speakers: