You were chosen to present because of your outstanding expertise and proven ability to communicate effectively. We’re delighted that you have agreed to be a conference presenter.
Xactware user conference attendees provide feedback after each session. This feedback is insightful and very helpful for planning a great user conference session.
Please take a moment to review the top-four tips gleaned from those comments.
The highest-rated presenters almost always tell a story. Usually it starts with a significant problem or series of problems and a narrative that engages listeners, progresses from point to point, and ultimately presents a new perspective on how to approach similar issues in the future.
A few things to keep in mind when telling a story:
Simplify. The biggest mistake most presenters feel they made after a session was trying to do too much. Often the best prepared presenters also have many potential photos, illustrations, data, and anecdotes that all make interesting points. It’s critical to narrow those down to support one or two core messages.
A good way to test your presentation is to do three or four practice presentations with colleagues. In a live presentation it quickly becomes apparent if you are trying to do too much.
Don’t self-promote. You are very good at what you do. That’s why you are presenting. Though this is a problem for very few presenters, it’s helpful for all to remember that attendees are most engaged when hearing stories and ideas and will quickly lose interest when the focus becomes self-promotional.
Don’t underestimate your audience. Xactware user conference attendees are among the most experienced and successful in the industry. Each session is packed with experts and talented new learners.
All give very negative feedback to presenters they feel talk down to them or over explain obvious points. It’s critically important to be clear, concise, and easily understood, but make sure you understand how much your listeners already know.
It is a given that you are very busy and often the time you planned to use for preparation is pushed aside by phone calls, emails, pressing projects, and the series of emergencies that are normal in this industry.
However, when many presenters stand to begin a session, they fervently wish they had considered planning to be a much more important priority. And keep in mind that a little planning goes along way.
Reading a presentation is highly frowned on by attendees, though they are tolerant of presenters who check notes. Reading from a PowerPoint is a sure way to collect a pile of negative comments (see the next section for more).
The best approach is to memorize your session and maintain eye contact with your audience. Second best is to memorize all the key points and rely on notes that contain a brief outline.
A few rules of thumb:
PowerPoints can significantly enhance a presentation but can also do more harm than good. Here are some PowerPoint tips:
The difference between your presentation the first time you give it and the fourth time is almost always a dramatic improvement. Xactware strongly suggests that you practice your session in front of peers at least three times before arriving at the conference. If possible, also schedule time to practice in the room where your presentation will be given.
Please arrive at your session 1/2 hour early for setup and possibly some limited practice with your material before the session.
The benefits of practice cannot be overstated and, compared to the time it takes to prepare a session, practice takes relatively little time. No hour you spend while preparing your session will repay you with the level of substantial improvement that an hour of practice will.
In the days leading up to the conference, Xactware suggests you set aside an hour a day (or every other day) for multiple practice sessions in front of at least two people.
The top two reasons presenters say they failed to practice are because they ran out of time and because they were too embarrassed to present to close colleagues and encroach on their time.
Those who overcome these objections and practice are usually repaid with successful sessions they are proud of. Those who don’t often say, “I wish I could give that session again because now I feel like I know how to do it right.”
No one ever regretted setting aside time to practice.
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