Love it or hate it, for many people public speaking is an integral part of our working lives, and therefore an essential skill for anyone who wants to make a significant impact each time they jump on stage. While you may be an expert in your field and know your topics inside out, the key to captivating your audience is sharing all that juicy insight with impact. Our Live Experience Director Rich Davies shares his top seven presenter tips every presenter should know.
1. Be prepared
It might seem obvious, but preparation is the foundation of any successful presentation, “practice makes good progress” as I always like to say. Start crafting your speech well in advance and give yourself ample time to practice. Rehearsing your speech repeatedly is crucial for building confidence and identifying any areas that need finessing. Each time, reduce your notes, and if you can, create just three key bullets to remember per slide or section, that way, you’ll begin to naturally find your own way to articulate your thoughts and focus on the key takeaways. But it’s a fine line! Often over rehearsing can be detrimental - once you're confidently delivering your speech with only 3 key points per section you’ve got it! Or you may start waffling!
2. Pay attention to the details
Creating a fantastic speech is important, but how you present yourself on stage matters just as much. Your clothing, the background, your posture, and your tone all play a role in how your audience perceives you and what they take away from your session. Research has shown that communication is 55% nonverbal, 38% vocal, and only 7% words. So, make sure you pay attention to your appearance, body language, and the way you speak – they might even matter more than what you say. Whenever I prepare for a presentation, I think carefully about how I introduce myself, considering the audience, the event subject and kicking off with purpose. Get this right and you’re off to a flying start.
3. Get to know your audience
What do they want to know, and how can you meet their expectations? It’s easy to get hung up on what you want to say, but understanding your audience and tailoring your content for them is key to delivering an effective speech. Ask yourself through the eyes of the audience “What’s in it for me?”. Keep in mind that the average attention span of an audience is only eight to 10 minutes, so you need to deliver content they care about, quickly. To maintain engagement, keep your talk concise, engaging and switch up your approach regularly to keep all ears on you. Pose questions to the audience, and most importantly – be relatable and inclusive.
4. Embrace visuals and interactivity
Really successful events are a sensory experience, so don't rely solely on your voice and the same old slides. Remember, your supporting visuals are a direct reflection of you, your credibility and your professionalism. Incorporate dynamic visuals to keep your audience engaged and illustrate your points effectively. Consider using moving images, infographics, or even videos. Go a step further and be interactive – engage your audience with questions, polls, or personalised shout-outs. These strategies make your presentation more memorable and get your audience more engaged too. We should know, we’ve created enough live event content in the past 40 years.
5. Tell a story or two
Professionalism is important, but authenticity and confidence are what your audience really craves. Storytelling is a great way to satisfy that need for real humans, with relatable experiences, on stage. Not only does the occasional story humanise your message, it helps people remember your content. Research by the London School of Economics indicates that audiences retain 65% of information when it's presented as a story, compared to a mere 5% without. So, don't be afraid to infuse your presentation with the odd yarn. This if any, is my favourite and most important top tip!
6. Be prepared for the unexpected
Live events are unpredictable, and things can go wrong. Technical glitches, equipment malfunctions, interruptions, or unexpected changes are all part of the magic of live performances. The key is to remain flexible and adapt to challenges as they present themselves. Come prepared with backup plans and remember that audiences are often more forgiving than we expect. Roll with the punches, and your professionalism will shine through. If you know your content, have a great story and put the practice in, you can achieve anything on the day! Your connection with the audience shouldn't end when you walk off the stage.
7. Don't disappear after your presentation
Attendees will want to learn more about your insightful session, so take the time to network. This is where real value is created - during one-on-one interactions. Engaging with your audience off the stage not only enhances their event experience but also establishes your as a personable and approachable expert. And who wouldn't want that to be their lasting impression?
Being an effective speaker at events and conferences requires more than just expertise in your subject matter. So, don't just speak, but inspire. When you put all these tips into action, you'll leave a lasting impression on your audience, and you might just find the whole experience a bit more enjoyable too.
If you’re planning your next event, our expert team are here to help. We’ve been building events that wow for over 40 years now, and yes, that includes speaker coaching. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org