Say What? Tips for Speaking or Presenting at Conferences

I just returned from the annual SHSMD conference, which featured many excellent presentations from communications pros in the healthcare and health tech/data industries, and it got me thinking about the value of presenting well.

Speaking opportunities are a great way to spread awareness of and interest in your products, services or organization. Whether it’s an informal business roundtable through your local chamber, or a national conference attended by thousands, presentations offer you a chance for face-to-face engagement with your audience in a way most other marketing channels don’t.

Make the most of that engagement with these quick tips:

  1. Keep it short. No one wants to listen to someone trying to cram 140 slides worth of information into a 30-minute talk. Be thoughtful about streamlining your material and highlighting only the most important information in a way that gets to your key takeaways faster.
  2. Keep it relevant. Make sure your content is meaningful to your audience. When possible, include real-world anecdotes and examples. Instead of citing loads of data in tiny-hard-to-read charts, boil it down to a few lessons from the before-and-after. Sharing tactical tips that are easy to apply and replicate is another great way to deliver audience value.
  3. Keep it fun. Humor helps a lot! A presentation on even the driest subject becomes more interesting with a little humor. I once saw someone discuss the dangers of honeybee decolonization by comparing it to the popular show Sex and the City. Use pop culture, use industry in-jokes if you’re with a familiar crowd, include funny stories or short activities to make your information—and your company!—memorable.
  4. Interact, engage, follow-up. You have your audience in the room with you—take advantage of it. Ask them for questions. Ask if they’ve encountered similar situations. This is your chance to learn from them just like they’re learning from you.  Also be savvy about including your contact information, website or social media follow-ups, or other specific calls-to-action that support your campaign. By directing them to additional information or connecting with them after the presentation, you build the beginning of a longer relationship.

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