10 Essential Tips to Creating a Kick-A$$ Conference Deck

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Want your presentation to be the one all the conference attendees remember? Follow these tips.

By Rebecca Lee (PR Specialist, Dynamo PR)

Great news! Your application to speak at an upcoming conference was accepted. This will be great exposure for your startup, plus when you’re behind the podium instead of in the seats, you get more opportunities to rub elbows with other entrepreneurs and speakers.

There’s just one problem. You have to create your deck and presentation. And you’ve been procrastinating so it’s due… tomorrow. Your dream is to be that engaging but fun speaker that everyone raves about at the conference, but it takes time and planning to shine as that stellar performer everyone remembers!

If preparing a conference slide deck was easy, then everyone would do it. Follow these tips and tricks — lessons I picked up as I was preparing my slides for the Brighton SEO — and your audience will thank you.

1. Even When You Aren’t Planning a Deck, Plan One

Before you land that speaking slot or think about taking one on, start an ideas folder of interesting images and examples that catch your eye. It’s also useful to keep track of the common questions clients and peers ask you. Take note of how you have answered these — if you get the same questions a lot, chances are your audience members will have similar questions. Your answers will make for a strong presentation.

Then when it comes time to put a deck together, you already have an impressive foundation to work from.

2. Tell Them Something They Don’t Know

Audiences like to come away from conferences with knowledge they didn’t already know and can apply at work straight away. Quoting facts and figures can be useful, but too many can make a talk start to feel dull. So try to give the audience something they can talk about at happy hour after the event. A great way to articulate some of your points is with more entertaining facts, figures and examples.

For example when I was looking to talk about the statistics around niche market opportunities on the Internet, I could have referenced some Internet data and talked about specific microchip industries that are booming due to their niche positions, but I knew no one would remember that. So instead, I used an example from a greeting cards company that started selling Valentine’s Day cards owners can send to their pets. It was far more visually interesting and certainly got people chatting, without detracting from my key point!

3. Remember That People Connect with Images

More and more, we’re becoming a culture driven by visual content, from the news stories we consume to the way we interact online. Research has shown that photos on Facebook pages received 53% more “likes” than the average post, suggesting visual content more appealing online in social communities.

The same should be considered when thinking about how your slides will look, images can resonate much stronger messages than words alone.

4. Tap into the Expertise of People Around You

Pick three people to critique your slide deck. Their feedback can be a valuable resource. It’s best if these three people vary in knowledge levels on your topic to give you a wider perspective on your own work.

5. Live Tweet

Live tweeting during presentation is an undervalued channel to engage the audience that are there at the time but also to people who may follow you at a later date or reference your talk. There are a few free platforms that will allow you to schedule tweets ahead of time so that can focus on presenting.

6.   Prepare Multiple Versions of Your Deck

Building up to a presentation is hours of hard work and planning, so prepare for all eventualities beforehand by creating a multiple versions of your deck in different formats. You should have a PDF handy, a PowerPoint and just to be safe a Google Presentation. It could also be a good idea to upload your deck onto a slide sharing site.

7. Block out Your Calendar for Prep Time

One of the biggest elements to planning is organization, so be realistic on how much time you will need to dedicate for a presentation and book small time slots up to six months ahead.

8. Establish your Key Phrases

When we watch the news, we are likely recall on average just 17.2% of the content. Keep that in mind when creating your slide deck. Make sure your key messages are clear and concise.

9. Find out Your Speaking Slot Time

The time of day you’ll be speaking had a big impact on the way the audience will be feeling. For instance, if you’re the first speaker of the day then you want to energize the room. If you’re speaking later in the day after everyone has been sitting through multiple presentations, perhaps you’ll work in a mini stretch break mid-presentation to get people off their feet and wake up your audience.

10. Know Your Venue

Knowing where you’ll speak can be difficult especially if you’re travelling, but getting an idea of the space and can help you visualize how you’ll use the stage. If you can’t Google what it looks like, ask the organizers to send some photos to you.

Start off small with speaking opportunities and work your way up. Even doing small presentation to your colleagues a good start and will start to build your understanding of how to work with an audience and what you need to do to feel confident and prepared.

What are your tips for putting together memorable conference presentations?


About the guest blogger: Rebecca Lee is a Digital PR specialist at Dynamo PR agency in London. She has both in-house and agency experience gaining coverage in national newspapers and online news across the events, technology, business and lifestyle publications. Rebecca is an advocate of learning and development and has led industry specific lectures and training courses.