By Luke Hannan
Today I’m going to show you how to prepare for your next speech or presentation
In Fact, these are the exact strategies I use when preparing myself for Professional MC gigs.
Read on, take note and use these 11 essential tips to nail your next speech or presentation.
1. Consider your audience
2. Understand the event
3. Why is the audience there
4. Why are you there
5. The key take away
6. Know the Format
7. How long do you have
8. Know when you're up
9. What prop(s) will you have
10. Plan to Practice
11. Will there be Q&A?
1. Consider your primary audience
It goes without saying that the manner in which you’ll address a group of children would vary to how you’ll control a boardroom.
Look at the general audience examples below and consider how you might present an idea and importantly what elements of that idea will be most sought after by the target audience:
- Event Managers (focusing on the details / level of organisation?)
- Marketing (focusing on look & feel / customer suitability?)
- Finance (focusing on profitability / return on investment?)
- Legal (focusing on is it Legal / aligned to regulatory obligations?)
It is crucial to note that different people prefer to receive information in different ways and often seek varying angles of information about a similar concept.
2. Understand the type of event
The type of event will provide a guidance as to the tone that you should aim for within your presentation or speech.
Take a look at the below table & use it to challenge your thinking - What things would you consider entering in the cells below when presenting at the below types of events?
3. Learn why your audience is there?
Recently, I attended a conference that was marketed as future focused, thought provoking and inspirational yet roughly half of the speakers were really focused on selling/marketing their products.
Although most of the promoted products and services were innovative - the consensus among many audience members was an imbalance between too much Sales Pitch and not inspiring enough
4. Know why you are there
Why were you chosen to deliver this presentation?
- Perhaps you’ll be adding a plethora of value as a Subject Matter Expert?
- Maybe you’re the Leader and need to step up & take control?
Whilst you may be wearing any number of hats - at the very core be sure to truly uncover your role:
5. Define what you want the audience to take away
What are your most important messages - As a Professional Master of Ceremonies I love to ask my Keynote Speakers before the conference or event “If you’re audience is taking only 1 thing away from your speech or presentation - what would it be?" For example:
If you’re speaking where there is a Professional MC they’ll have already clarified why you’re presenting or speaking in your introduction.
However often the 'MC' will simply read your Bio leaving an important element - your ‘Why’- out in the cold.
If this happens or if there's no MC (a work meeting for example) it’s up to you to clarify early on why you’re there and what you want the audience to takeaway.
6. Understand the Format of your presentation
This is often clear but in terms of preparation you’ll need to cross check what the format is. (i.e. are you sharing the stage with numerous other presenters in a panel style discussion?)
A 40 minute Panel Discussion with 5 panellists, an MC plus Q&A means you’ll probably only get 5 minutes max of airtime and it won’t be 5 minutes straight. You’ll likely get 30-60 seconds up front and if there’s rebuttals or debate you’ll need to be on the ball to ensure you best convey your key points.
Alternatively it could be just you for 40 minutes with Q&A meaning you’ll have 30 minutes with little interruption to convey your key messages
PRO TIP: Where you sit may alter audience perception of you. Studies have shown that the person in the middle of a Panel is perceived to carry the most authority... Perception is reality so consider which seat you’ll occupy and why.
7. Learn how much time you have
The format of your presentation (see point 6 above) will have a significant Impact on your actual allotted time.
Assuming you know what the format is and how this impacts you - It’s time to figure out how much time you’ll have;
8. Know when you are presenting
It’s easy to overlook the ‘when’ of your presentation or speech - however as a Professional MC timing is one of the key things I discuss with my Event Management clients and their Keynote Speakers during pre-event consultations.
Here’s are few key things to look out for:
PRO TIP: If you need to boost the energy - physiological intervention is a great option so be courageous and get the audience involved - even a quick stand up and meet the person next to them will get the blood flowing!!
9. Ask what props will you have
Slides can be a great prop to aide you in conveying your key message - however the ability to inform, persuade, convince and confirm ultimately rests with you.
There’s no faster way to lose the engagement of an audience by reading detailed information, slide after slide for the duration of your presentation.
Always discuss the vision for your presentation with the MC, Event Managers and the AV team (or if you're flying solo be sure to ensure that any complex demonstrations can be seamlessly integrated into your pack). Also pays to have a backup in case things fail when you're halfway through.
10. Plan and Lock in your Practice time
If you’re going to present like a pro - don't prepare a speech at the last minute. You’ve got to put in the groundwork.
As a Conference MC roughly:
Plan to practice as much as possible including getting to the meeting room or stage where you’ll be delivering your presentation.
11. Understand if you’ll have Q&A?
Asking questions of your audience has so many benefits:
Whilst a large proportion of presentations that feature Q&A do so toward the end, you might like to consider scheduling Q&A halfway through and again at the end. I fact some speakers will open with Q&A, using the audiences questions, queries and comments as the basis for their presentations.
I’ve had the pleasure of being a Conference MC on countless occasions and questions are becoming faster, easier & more anonymous - quite often the Event Organisers will use apps such as sli.do https://www.sli.do/ which allows quick, concise and timely questions to be asked at any stage with anonymity. Significantly boosting an audiences willingness to participate.
And now I’d like to hear from you:
Which strategy from today’s post are you excited to try first?
Or maybe you have a question about something you read.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now