Top Tips to Make Sure You Present With Impact
Forget your industry event, the biggest event in 2020 is still ongoing and has taken the phrase “going viral” back to its roots. While Covid-19 has led to cancellations of in-person events… well, everywhere, we’re still marketing, launching, and doing business the best way we can. The autumn will see many events being held either completely online or a hybrid version with some people attending in person and the rest online.
Which means you can still network with people from around the world, even if you’re working from home.
The new set-up for these events also presents a fantastic opportunity for people who wouldn’t or couldn’t travel to an event normally. They now get the chance to attend and as a presenter, panellist or exhibitor, your international audience could be bigger than ever.
And if you are presenting, there’ll be less general hubbub and fewer shiny stands competing for attention, your audience will focus on your talk. Let’s make every second count, get your slides working hard for you, and turn your presentation into a way to connect with a bigger audience.
Make it snappy
Do you know why TED talks are 18-20 minutes long? 18 minutes is the average concentration span of an adult. So if your presentation is up to an hour, make sure you break it into three smaller chunks. And go easy on your audience. They’re probably going to be attending multiple presentations so try to distil your topic into one key message for people to remember. You can discuss different aspects of this message, but realistically, people won’t remember all the details. If it’s a topic they’re interested in, they can contact you – the expert – for more information. Which is your ultimate aim, isn’t it?
Keep in contact
Ideally, you want to capture as many contact details as possible so you can follow-up with people who are interested in your topic. What could you offer to encourage this? A white paper, report, consultation, a competition even? Many presenters offer to send out slides, but I’d much rather receive the slides or slide content incorporated into a more interesting, easy-to-absorb package.
Watch your words with an international audience
If your talk is in English, send it to me in advance so I can give it a native English speaker read-through. Although I’m British, I can switch to US English spelling or a more neutral ‘international English’ many of my clients require. In other words, English that non-native speakers find easy to understand. Because a large chunk of your international audience will use English as their business language, but they won’t be native speakers. This means avoiding idioms and any complex word play or strong cultural references that may confuse people.
The worst offenders for not considering their audience are native English speakers, I’m afraid to say. Strong regional accents, complex terminology, and cultural references abound unless they’re used to working internationally. I once sat at a talk at a speciality chemical conference and cringed as one presenter used overly complex language. And then made a joke that didn’t translate at all – the gentleman from Shanghai to my right asked me for a summary.
Watch your accent
We all have accents, so that small talk at the start of a presentation to make sure everyone can hear you and the technology is working serves a greater purpose. It helps your audience get used to your accent so they don’t miss any important points. If you prefer to wow your audience right from the start, make sure you repeat your initial key point again, just in case they missed it while their ears and brains were adjusting.
Through no fault of your own, some of your international audience may still struggle to follow your presentation. A Polish colleague once commented he couldn’t understand an Irish presenter who was doing all the right things but didn’t have any of her key points on her slides. If you couldn’t tune into her accent, you had little idea of the content. If people are interested enough to come to your talk, make sure they don’t leave frustrated, give them some engaging slides to follow at least and the promise of something more.
Thank you for your attention
Please don’t put this on your last slide. Thank your audience, but your last slide should detail what you want your audience to do next. If they stay right until the end of your talk, they probably have more than a passing interest and would like to know more.
Repeat your key message. Make a valuable offer. Include your contact details. Encourage your audience to take action before their attention moves on and you lose the opportunity to stay in touch.
Tell me, which event are you attending or presenting at next? And if you’d like help with your English presentation, you can reach me at [email protected]