Our top 5 tips for speakers.

It’s looking like a full summer of events, and believe it or not, we are excited to do some public speaking in front of large crowds again. OK, maybe a little nervous, too. 

But after Zoom and WFH, what message do speakers need to bring to inspire attendees right now? Also, how can they set themselves up for success before they hit the stage? Short answer – it all comes down to making a real connection with the audience. For more about how to do that, here’s our top 5 tips for speakers. 

Speaker presenting with video background.

Be relevant. 

At this year’s CES, General Motors started its keynote address by listing a few of its very forward-thinking goals, including zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero traffic. Talk about big goals!

At a time when we’ve all been looking ahead to brighter and less crazy days, these kinds of ideas are exactly what speakers should be projecting in their keynotes. 

Throw out the introductory stats, the charts, the graphs, and all the stuff we think we have to say to make it sound like last year was amazing. Right now it’s all about saying, “This is how we can make the world better, and this is how we’re doing it!” 

No matter your industry or your profession, we’ve all had time to think about how to improve things. To work better, smarter, faster. Lead with that and get people thinking about the future. Because that’s what it’s all about right now. 

Man asking to partner with the audience.

Reach out to your audience before the event. 

When people feel a connection to the speaker, or are already excited about your ideas, they are far more likely to attend and be engaged with the presentation. 

The only way to do this is to get out in front of people before the event. Think Instagram stories, Twitter, a free short webinar, or any way that you can get your message to attendees and start to get them excited about who you are as a person. 

People like a speaker that feels accessible, and the virtual world can bring more people into your orbit faster than before. 

On event day, get out in the crowd and introduce yourself before you speak. Talk to attendees about what they do and how you can help. This will also be a great warm-up before your presentation, not to mention help make some friendly faces in the crowd!

Man instructing another man to do less.

More is not always better. 

One defining characteristic of a TED talk is that it’s 18 minutes or less (because that’s the amount of time people can fully pay attention before they get distracted). 

Attendees can’t comprehend complex ideas for eternity. Maybe 18 minutes is too short, maybe it’s longer than you need, either way, the success of your presentation is only dependent on getting your ideas across. Not how long your session is. 

A good rule of thumb is if you think an idea is unnecessary, you can probably cut it. Trust your gut. Put yourself in the audience when you are editing your presentation. 

It’s all about finding the easiest and shortest possible way to get the point across without losing any of its edge. When you find that, that’s when you know your presentation is ready to rock. 

Speaker giving keynote with a video playing in the background.

Use all technology to the fullest. 

At CES 2022, the Samsung keynote made full use of the giant wrap-around screen behind the stage. They played videos and top-notch graphics, all slickly edited to an Apple-level quality. (Which we don’t throw out lightly).

Static slides are out (they’ve been out for a while). The future is all about video. Creating content that’s similar to all the other content we see on social media. In other words, just like TikTok, video content is king right now (and way more interesting than pictures or graphs). 

One big trend we are also seeing is using video right as the keynote begins. Almost like a quick trailer for your talk.  

Try to find content that will help create the right mood for your presentation. Maybe a special video you took on your phone. Maybe a scene from a movie, or maybe even something you had made professionally. Either way, if there’s a big screen behind you, don’t forget to use it!  

A man trying to finish his speech so he can be successful.

Use the event experience to get more gigs! 

With all the events coming back, now is the time to use each speaking engagement as an opportunity to book even more gigs. 

According to Jen Galantz, past SXSW speaker and founder of Bridesmaids for Hire, she uses each event to gather specific feedback from audience members and then weaves these comments in her pitches to speak at other events. 

She also maintains a pitch letter template that she can continually add to and refine for each new speaking opportunity. The letter includes event speaking experience, audience experiences, and reasons why she will be successful at that specific event. 

We’ll also add that you should share recordings of your session on social media. As well as any videos of you at the event that can help build your brand. Much of speaking is about having a following. The only way to do that is to keep getting out in front of people. 

It’s all about making a connection. 

There’s no right way to give a presentation. But the number one way to be successful is to make a genuine connection with the audience. 

Being relevant and talking about what people can look forward to in the future is a great way to connect right now. Using videos right from the start will grab people’s attention and set the tone. And the more attendees you connect with before the event, the more people will be excited about your session. So basically, focus on making real connections, and good things will happen.

Looking to book a speaker, but not sure where to start?

Learn how to narrow your search with Bobbie Carlton, Founder of Innovation Women and Expo, Inc. on Thursday, April 28th at 2pm CDT for a live virtual discussion on Picking the perfect speaker for any event: Where to start and what to know.

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