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7 Steps to Prepare for a Speaking Event

As part of my job, I sometimes get invited to speak at events, webinars and or conferences. Yes, public speaking.These steps are equally applicable to organizing events or moderating panel sessions:

1. Agree the Topic – Hopefully, this will be based on your speaking proposal. However, some conferences (e.g. The Open Group Conference) have a pretty well informed audience which sometimes make it a mutual learning experience, especially in ‘hands-on’ style workshop sessions. Whatever you do, try to avoid overt product pitches as these can be a major turn off for audiences & organizers.

2. Session Formats – This depends on what you’ve been allocated. Session formats are typically proposed ahead of time by the event organizer. Some common event session formats include: Keynote Address / Multi-speaker & panel sessions / Hands-on workshops / informal networking (including with vendor stands and/or exhibitions)

3. Presentation Format / Q&A – This is typically based on personal preference. I normally use PowerPoint slides, and often split the session 70/30 between presentation and Q&A. If you’re more comfortable doing both simultaneously then let the audience know either way. Some more adventurous souls may also include live demos and / or just straight ‘chalk and talk’.

4. Audience – Obviously, try to modulate your message to match the audience. Attendees at IT conferences typically work in IT (or related fields/industries), and can be a little tough to impress, but I find asking questions and facilitating exchanges usually helps to keep them engaged.

5. Timing & Logistics – This needs to be agreed beforehand with organizer – Time and duration are crucial to overall presentation flows, hence organizers can get a bit miffed at overly long sessions.

6. Marketing & Comms – Suggest giving a heads up to your marketing and comms teams for any relevant marketing support / steers. They may even provide promotional materials, but do check with the event organizer that it’s ok to bring and share such items. Furthermore, your marketing team can also help promote the event via their usual channels and via social media e.g. blogs / Twitter / LinkedIn etc.

7. Feedback & Follow Up (Post Event) – This can often be overlooked, but it’s very useful to bear in mind when networking. LinkedIn is a useful tool for managing contacts / follow-ups / promoting your participation at the event. Some organizers also provide session feedback post event – a glowing recommendation helps to keep the speaking engagements flowing!

Jude Umeh

Jude Umeh

In conclusion, if like me you have a masochistic yen for public speaking, then the above tips and guidelines should help make it a little easier (but not necessarily any less painful) to do do. In any case, good luck, and remember to have fun!

Jude Umeh is a senior consultant and enterprise architect at Capgemini. Read all Capgemini blogs here.

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2 Comments

Comments

    Dima:

    Good post and I especially agree on the topic of providing value beyond a pitch!
    To add two of my best tips:
    1. One of my favorite quotes on presenting is from Ken Haemer at AT&T – ‘Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it “to whom it may concern.”’ Taylor your content to your audience and make sure it is relevant to them.

    2. When doing Q&A from the audience, remember that you have a microphone but the person asking the question might have their back turned to most of the room and is projecting towards you. Your session may also be recorded and the audience doesn’t have microphones.
    Repeat the question back to the room by saying “The question is…” or “Great question about …”

      Joe Panettieri:

      Dima: I look forward to seeing the tips in action at IT Nation and future events.
      -jp

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