The key to a successful seminar presentation is preparation.
There is nothing worse than turning up to a location and finding that you have forgotten a key piece of equipment or that there is no internet access when you need it. Your attendees have given up their valuable time and expect to see a professional and slick presentation. Or at least what you promised.
We have come up with a great checklist that should help you avoid any pitfalls and make your presentation go as smoothly as possible. People remember a great seminar but never forget a bad one.
It might be a good idea to make use of a questionnaire a week beforehand. Ask your attendees some questions that you can analyze to stress your key points in your presentation.
Other things to find out in advance:
- Does the location have WiFi (if you need it)?
- Does it have a projector and screen? Is the projector connected to an A/V system and can you plug your laptop into it?
- Do you need additional dongles (HDMI, USB-C to Mac laptop)?
- Is there food and drink available? If so, do you need to arrange a bartender or have sandwiches prepared?
- Is there enough seating? Arrange it beforehand to suit your style.
You need to prepare slides. People will not listen for more than 30 minutes without visual stimulation so it’s good to let the slides speak for themselves. Like a great movie, you want people to be thinking about your presentation long after they have left the building.
- If you are serious, you should have a laptop.
- Take your power cord.
- Make sure the battery is fully charged.
- Can you move through the slides with a remote control or can you do this using keys?
- A pointer can be really helpful to indicate items out of your reach. A laser is also good but use something.
- Video your presentation (for posterity or to post on your blog) and make sure there is enough tape to cover it! We learned this lesson the hard way.
- If you need to show web pages but there is no internet access, take screenshots of the page beforehand and save as JPEGs
We use Keynote (on our MacBook Pro), an outstanding presentation software that leaves Powerpoint in the dust. It will make your slides come to life and look highly professional with templates, which reflects directly on you and the effort you put into your branding.
Your slides should include:
- An intro page with your logo, date and title.
- A page asking people to turn their cell phones off (just like the the movies).
- An itinerary of the seminar so people know what to expect.
- Your small logo in the bottom right corner of every slide.
- Bullet points and graphics; make each slide easy to absorb and memorable. Let the bullet points allow you to explain further.
- A “Thank You” page with a question (e.g. What is your next step?).
- A Resources page with links to all of your websites, social media addresses, blog, etc.).
Public speaking is not easy. It takes confidence to get up in front of tens, hundreds or thousands of people and stick to your point. But once you do this a couple of times, you start to develop your own technique, which may lead to more speaking engagements (if people refer you).
- Dress accordingly. If it’s a lunch meeting, smart jeans and collared shirt may work. Something more professional, wear a tie but leave the jacket on your chair.
- Make sure people can hear you; ask them. Is there a microphone available?
- Use name tags so you can see peoples’ names (also useful for networking). Your name tag should have your profession as well, which can stimulate a conversation. So instead of just, “PAUL”, I use, “Paul Mycroft, Email Marketer.”
- Take questions as you move through the slides. I found this was helpful to keep people on your train of thought rather than take lots of questions at the end and not allow some people their question because you run out of time.
- Repeat any questions you get so everyone can hear unless it’s a small room.
- Use humour sparingly but only if it fits.
- Look around the room as you speak, don’t focus on the person who happens to be sitting in front.
Prepare a table with:
- Business cards or other promotional material.
- An email signup sheet so you can follow up with and thank them later using a professional email marketing tool
- Anything you want to sell (e.g. books, tapes, CDs).
- If possible, allow for some networking afterward, hopefully in a bar. Networking should be fun and can allow you to answer questions that you may not have had time for or if people are too shy to ask in public.
We hope you found these tips useful. If you have anything to add or think we might have missed anything important, please get in touch.