6 tips to nail your conference speech, by Colin James [Video]

Person holding nails between their teethBeing asked to give a workshop or presentation at a conference is a fantastic opportunity. What a great way to get you and your message more widely known in your industry!

So if you’re invited to speak at a conference, what specific steps can you take to make the most of the event?

Well, to help you nail your talk, try the 6 tips in this 2-minute video by Colin James:

Colin’s tips are:
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Declutter your talk’s title! [A makeover with @LMFDesign]

Long-stemmed rose with scissors cutting the stem in halfWhich of the many aspects of giving a presentation are you best at?

I’d say I’m best at writing a strong message, and that means I often focus on a talk’s words. So when presentation blogger Laura Foley posted her neat makeover of a title slide, I thought hard about the text on that slide.

In this post, we’ll look at:
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Presenting? Don’t shy away from your Q&A – part 2 [Video]

Close-up of Monopoly game board showing a large question mark and the word "Chance"What do you think it is about answering audience questions that makes many speakers nervous?

I’d say it’s the unpredictability – and having to respond at a moment’s notice.

But, if you’ve read my last post, you’ll know I mentioned 3 steps you can use to help you master your Q&A, from the late Denise Graveline:
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Presenting? Don’t shy away from your Q&A – part 1 [Video]

Close-up of Monopoly game board showing a large question mark and the word "Chance"What’s your attitude to the Q&A session when you give a speech or presentation?

If you’re like most speakers, you likely feel a bit nervous about giving your talk, but more nervous about taking questions!

After all, if you think of questions negatively, they can seem like tests. And the people asking them can seem to be doubting your expertise.

So, you might fear scenarios like these:

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Grab ’em when you present – 2 quick tricks for you, by Marcus Sheridan @TheSalesLion [Video]

Close-up of falcon's talonsWhen you’re presenting, how do you keep your audience engaged? What do you do, exactly?

Here’s one of the best ways to engage people – yet it’s one of the most human, too, so it’s among the simplest:

Make your talk conversational.

You might still wonder how you should do that though.

So (as explained in more detail in that link), I like to split the process into 3 levels:

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You’ve 3 gifts for your audience. How much should you give them? That depends…

3 wrapped giftsYou might’ve heard presentation coaches say your talk should make your audience think, feel, or do something different. And I think they’re right – to a degree.

By the way, thinking, feeling or doing something different aren’t exactly what I meant as the gifts mentioned in this post’s title. More on that shortly.

Why do I add that proviso – “to a degree”? Well, there’s no point making your audience just think or feel something – unless they act on it too.

For instance, let’s look at an extreme example to illustrate my point:
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How to nail your talk in the first 30 secs, by @KindraMHall [Video]

Boy reading by torchlight under bed coversWhat is it about public speaking that you’d be most likely to search for on the internet? You might be surprised which of my posts gets the most search traffic

The most popular post on this blog – by far – is the one on awesome opening lines. And almost 60 people have commented on it, too. So it’s definitely a hot topic for public speakers.

But if you go looking for an opening line for your talk, I think you’re taking the wrong approach.

Why do I say that? Well, the combination of your audience and your topic are unique. So, if you search the internet for an opening line, you’re very unlikely to find a good fit for your specific talk.

What should you do, then? You’ll find one great answer in this 3-minute video by Kindra Hall.

Kindra reveals:
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Take your talk beyond “pretty slides” – Secret #14 of star presenters, by Laura Foley

Box of 35-millimetre slides saying “Quality color slides”(Short of time? Jump to the tips)

How do you create your slide presentations? Allow me a few sentences to guess

If you’re like most speakers, you probably start in PowerPoint, where (to share your message, and to remind you what to say) it’s quite likely you write dozens of words on each slide. Then, to make your slides look more appealing, you might well “pretty them up” with graphics, a slide template, or even fancy fonts. And, to save time, you probably reuse whatever slides you can from previous talks.

If those steps sound familiar, you’ve likely found it hard to really engage your listeners. So you probably haven’t got the outcome you wanted from each talk.

Wordy slides make for a dull talk

That’s for a couple of reasons:

But, fear not. You can avoid those problems by using a different approach, as described by Laura Foley (presentation coach and blogger).

Laura says:
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Makeover (part 2) of a slide makeover – fewer photos please

Woman's face covered in paint of various primary coloursHave you seen my previous post? Here’s just a few sentences as a really quick recap:

“Do you find slide makeovers helpful?
I love them!

…they’re a form of ‘working out loud’ that
I find really useful”

That post’s the 1st part of the makeover shown below, and it explains changes I made to slides 1-2 from a presentation by Diane Windingland.

In this post, you’ll find details of the changes I made to slides 3-5 (of 5) from Diane’s deck:
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Makeover (part 1) of a slide makeover – fewer photos please

Woman's face covered in paint of various primary colours(Short of time? Skip ahead to the Contents)

Do you find slide makeovers helpful? I love them!

That’s because they show – in concrete terms – how you could improve specific slide layouts and formatting. And they even give you insight into the thought process of the designer who did the makeover. So they’re a form of “working out loud” that I find really useful.

Last month, presentation coach Diane Windingland published a slide makeover by a company called PunchSlide Design. The makeover included 7 slides from a presentation of
Diane’s, and she posted a before-and-after comparison of each one.

Of the 7 slides, 6 of them had photos added during the makeover. To me, that seemed a very high proportion, which led me to leave a comment on Diane’s blog:

“…using too many photos (or too many of any type of
slide) can be about as boring as over-using bullet points”

I felt strongly that I could do a better makeover!

Still, I found the makeover inspiring – partly because Diane’s slides were a great foundation to build on. And partly because, frankly, I felt strongly that I could do a better makeover!

So in today’s post, you’ll find my own makeover of 5 of Diane’s slides. Then, in this post and my next, I’ll share with you my thinking behind each slide’s redesign.

If you want to jump to a specific topic in this post, you can click any of these links:
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