Master the Art of Public Speaking at Conferences — Smashing Magazine

**Tips for Delivering an Amazing Presentation**

During a decade of curating conferences, Andy Budd has gained extensive experience watching presentations. In this article, we will explore some of the key elements that make a presentation great and some common pitfalls to avoid. Whether you are aspiring to be a conference speaker or simply want to improve your presentation skills, this article is for you.

**Choosing Your Topic: Unique vs. Personal Perspective**

One misconception about public speaking is the belief that you need to present a completely novel idea that nobody has ever spoken about before. While groundbreaking concepts are always welcome, they are rare. In today’s connected world, ideas spread quickly, and conference attendees are likely to have already encountered many topics. The key lies in your personal perspective and the specific challenges you have faced.

For example, if you want to discuss topics like OKRs or usability testing, which have been extensively covered, you can still bring value by sharing your unique experiences, the obstacles you overcame, and your personal insights. Even if some attendees are familiar with the techniques, they may have faced different challenges and can benefit from your perspective. Additionally, there are always new people entering the industry who may have limited knowledge on these subjects.

*Remember, what matters is your personal filter and how you present the topic.*

**Case Studies: A Powerful Approach**

Another effective way to break into public speaking is by presenting a case study. Think about an interesting and recent project you worked on. Highlight the techniques you used, the approach you took, the problems you encountered, and how you solved them. Case studies allow you to deeply understand the subject matter, which helps alleviate nerves during your presentation.

There are numerous detailed case studies available for inspiration, including on Smashing Magazine. Consider sharing the specific details of your project and how it stands out from others.

**Preparation: Invest Time Wisely**

Many speakers fall into the trap of feeling the need to create a brand new talk every time they present. This misconception arises from insecurity and a desire for novelty. However, the reality is that most people won’t watch your talk when it’s available online, and even if they do, they will likely only remember a fraction of what you said.

It is essential to note that talks are context-sensitive. Your presentation may resonate with different people at different stages of their careers. Repeated exposure to your talk allows attendees to gain deeper insights and connections with your content.

Furthermore, talks improve with practice. You should aim to present your talk multiple times to refine its structure, pacing, and delivery. Take note of which parts resonate with the audience and make the necessary adjustments. Each outing provides valuable feedback that can enhance your presentation to its full potential.

It is also crucial to invest a considerable amount of time in preparation. On average, it can take one hour of preparation for every minute of content. Rushing through the process or leaving it until the last minute will result in a mediocre performance. Putting in the effort and ensuring a high-quality presentation will increase your chances of being invited to speak again in the future.

**Delivery: Engaging and Memorable Speech**

While creating compelling content is vital, the delivery of your speech plays a crucial role in keeping the audience engaged. Even the most interesting material can become dull with a monotone delivery. Here are some tips to help you nail the delivery:

– Vary your tone and pace: Use different tones and speeds to emphasize important points, create suspense, or inject humor into your speech. This will help maintain the audience’s attention and make your presentation more dynamic.
– Utilize storytelling techniques: Weaving personal stories or anecdotes into your presentation can be highly effective in capturing the audience’s interest. Stories have a way of resonating with people and making information more relatable.
– Engage with the audience: Interact with the audience throughout your presentation by asking questions, encouraging participation, or conducting quick polls. This involvement will make the talk feel more like a conversation rather than a one-sided lecture.
– Use visuals and props: Incorporating visuals, such as slides or props, can enhance your presentation and make it more memorable. Visual aids help reinforce key points and add visual interest to your talk.

By implementing these delivery techniques, you can deliver an engaging and memorable speech that leaves a lasting impact on your audience.

**In Conclusion: Preparing for Success**

Becoming a successful conference speaker requires careful preparation and a unique perspective on your chosen topic. Remember that your personal filter and experiences bring value to familiar subjects. Case studies offer a powerful approach to showcasing your expertise. Invest a significant amount of time in preparation and practice, and refine your talk to deliver a high-quality presentation. Nail the delivery by varying your tone, utilizing storytelling techniques, engaging with the audience, and incorporating visuals. By following these tips, you can become a compelling and sought-after conference speaker.

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