As an event production team, we’ve had a front row seat to thousands of presentations over the years. We can’t count the times we’ve seen speakers enter the room nervous, then gain confidence with coaching and deliver an engaging, home-run presentation. That’s why we wanted to share our top high-level speaking tips for events with the world beyond our clients. We collected advice from our team about how to make the AV equipment in the room work with you (not against you!) as well as other tips that make your presentation more polished and engaging.
Above all remember: The momentum is on your side! Audiences want speakers to connect with them and deliver strong presentations. Everyone is rooting for you, and there’s plenty of positive energy in the room that will encourage and support you. Believe in the importance of your presentation and perspective.
Structuring Your Presentation
Make your main point early and stay focused on your core messages.
Audiences have limited attention spans. Avoid spending more than a few minutes lingering on any one specific point.
Use relevant stories to draw your audience in.
Practice, practice, practice! Repetition is key.
Repeat the parts you find yourself stumbling on, and revise them if needed.
Practice your hand gestures.
If your event organizers are hosting a rehearsal, take advantage of that time. You’ll get to see what the audience looks like from the stage and become comfortable with the environment.
Time your presentation, and know where you should be based on certain minute marks. Ask if there will be a speaker timer onstage for you to look at to help pace yourself.
What to Wear
Be comfortable and wear something that helps you feel confident.
Wear clothes that are compatible with clipping on a lavalier microphone (a tiny mic clipped to your shirt) and microphone beltpack (clipped to your waistband.) Dresses are difficult to clip to your waistband so opt for pants or a skirt if possible.
Remove name badges, necklaces, or earrings that jangle to avoid extra noise on the microphone.
If your presentation is being recorded or live streamed, avoid wearing: hot pink, red, or all black. Shiny fabrics, like silk, may reflect too much light back at the camera. Busy patterns, like houndstooth, create a vibrating effect on camera.
Your slides are there to support your message — not make it for you.
Your visuals should be easy to see, read and understand. Avoid complicated graphics, but if you need to use a complicated graphic, make sure you explain it.
Learn if you will have a confidence monitor, which is usually a pair of video screens placed on the floor at the front of the stage. With a confidence monitor, you don’t need to look back at the screen behind you; you just glance down at the screen directly in front of you to see which slide is on screen.
Practice advancing and reversing your slides a few times with the slide advancer.
Don’t be afraid to communicate with the event’s AV provider if you have any questions or special requests about your slides (for example, you need them to cue up a video, or want them to put presenter view on the confidence monitors in front of you.) Give all special requests with as much advance notice as possible.
Sound & Microphones
Almost all presenter microphones will be a lavalier microphone or a microphone on a podium. It’s less likely that you’ll use a handheld microphone.
If using a podium microphone (or handheld), your mouth should be about six inches away. Speak in a normal volume.
Be aware the lights may feel bright, and possibly warm
Be aware that you may not be able to see the entire audience if the lights are bright. In advance, choose an area of the room you’d like to focus on.
Speak clearly and be measured with your speech.
Don’t be afraid to pause between thoughts — especially after important points.
Walk or move when possible to engage with the full audience.
Looking for an expert team to produce your conference or other event? Contact our team, we’d love to learn what you’re planning!
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