This series of posts is for those of you who’ve been asked to speak at a networking or other business event, you’re new to public speaking, and you need some advice on how to make sure your presentation goes smoothly.
Get Started Early
It’s almost impossible to over-prepare for a speaking opportunity, and it’s never too soon to start your preparation.
The bulk of your preparation will be for the talk itself. But before you do that, you’ll very likely have to give the event organiser a title and synopsis of your talk. They’ll use that in publicising the event.
Title and Synopsis
Your synopsis needs to be short and punchy. You’ll probably want to use no more than 150 words to describe your talk, and you ought to include:
- What you’re talking about.
- Why it should be of interest to the audience.
- What you’ll expect people to take away as the main point of your presentation.
- What people may be able to do as a result of listening to you that they couldn’t do beforehand.
After your synopsis, include a short biography. Just two or three sentences, and no more than 100 words, should be enough to tell people:
- Why you’re uniquely able to give this presentation.
- What your main business activity is.
- Where they should go to get more information: this is probably your website address.
Lastly, at the top of your synopsis, your presentation needs a great title. In effect, the title is the promise you’re making to the audience about what you’re going to deliver to them. You might be tempted to have something amusing – a pithy pun, perhaps – in the title. But the title must be descriptive enough for anyone to understand what you’re going to deliver. Remember that you don’t know where the title is going to appear: itcould be listed as an event on websites that you’re not aware of, where the context of your talk may not be clear. So make sure it can stand out, grab attention, and not mystify.
If you think really carefully about the title and synopsis of your talk, you’ll find that preparing the talk is much, much easier. You’ll have the focus you need. In fact, I always feel that in terms of the effort I put into the presentation and its title, it’s more like 60:40 than 90:10.
There’s lots of advice on presentation skills, so let me concentrate on the things your talk must avoid:
- Too many words. They’re there to listen to you not to speed-read. Use lots of appropriate,well-chosen pictures.
- A structure that’s not clear. Don’t leave them feeling lost. Use ‘signposts’ throughout.
- Leaving all the main conclusions to the end. Sprinkle your spice throughout so that you keep the audience’s attention.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to a successful presentation. But now people need to know that you’re doing it. So the next post in this series will discuss marketing for your speaking opportunity.
Review the whole Making the Most of Your Speaking Opportunity series: