4 Speaker Tips & Tricks: How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint

“Speakers are make or break. They’re a big part of what gets people talking before, during and after the event.”

A carefully designed and executed event can quickly become sabotaged by speakers and presenters who fail to entertain and inform the event attendees.

Speakers are make or break.

They’re a big part of what gets people talking before, during and after the event. The content of your event (sessions, presentations, entertainment, etc.), combined with the event experience you create for your attendees, is what makes your event memorable and unique.

Here my top 4 tips to help event organizers set-up event speakers and presenters for success:

Tip #1: Tell A Story

Event participants don’t want to be talked at … they want to be entertained.

The best speakers approach the presentation as if they are telling a story – a story the audience can identify with, a story that tells the tale of challenges the speaker has overcome and weaknesses or obstacles that he or she has faced. Humor doesn’t hurt either.

The story establishes the bond between the speaker and the listeners. If your event speakers don’t get this, they may as well stay at home.

Tip #2: Plan for Tech Woes

In the slim chance of a technology glitch (‘cause that like never happens), please ensure your speakers come prepared with a plan B. The show must go on!

To sidestep unforeseen tech surprises, it helps to prepare speakers in advance by sending them a detailed list of what type of technology and equipment will be provided and how you, the event organizer, expects them to prepare to speak or present at your event. Event organizers should also proactively ask for specs on their presentation and inquire about any special requests he or she may have for equipment or set-up.

Speakers who communicate their needs in advance, arrive early, participate in getting their presentation set-up, do a sound check, and basically make friends with the AV guy are the kind of rock star speakers we love having at our events.

Tip #3: Timing – Less is More

Audiences expect presentations to be shorter (think Ted Talks). So, even if a presenter has been given a 90-minute block of time, he or she should not feel like they need to use it! Talking too long is a sure-fire way to lose the audience. Same goes for rushing through things at the end in order to fit within the agreed upon time slot.

At virtual events, the recommended maximum length of time for a presentation is 45 minutes. Attention spans in the virtual world are shorter, so speakers need to be adapting their presentations to address ‘Zoom fatigue’.

Tip #4: Death by PowerPoint – Think Outside the Slides

You knew it was coming … the inevitable guidelines for creating a dynamic and attractive PowerPoint deck. Most speakers aren’t open to this because they dread facing the laborious task of re-formatting a PPT presentation that they have already spent hours on. Trust me. It will be worth their time.

If your presenter’s slide presentation deck hasn’t changed since 2004, he or she has no place on your event agenda. Help is only a search engine away though. Google it – the latest and greatest suggestions for how to format a PPT presentation are all over the web.

I share tons more of speaker and presenter tips in Volume IV of my ebook. I also vlogged about an amazing speaker who I had the chance to see live as a conference keynote – Jann Arden. Arden really knocked it out of the park. Have a listen below!

Watch the Vlog