by April Runft on February 14, 2017
Legaltech 2017 has wrapped up, officially kicking off the year’s industry conference circuit. Here at kCura, we’ve begun preparations for Relativity Fest, our annual user conference in October.
As we’ve been parsing through attendee feedback from past years to see how we can improve this year’s show, we thought your peers’ insights would be helpful for you, too, as you prepare for your speaking circuit this year or muster up the courage to shine your light at Relativity Fest for the first time.
Last April, we shared five tips for more effective e-discovery presentations. Now, drawing from Relativity Fest feedback, we offer five more tips to consider—the ABC(DE)s of nailing your next e-discovery (or any) presentation.
Feeling physically comfortable and being able to hear and see you clearly are fundamental influences on your audience’s attention. Start off on the right foot by requesting your audio/visual equipment and room setup needs with event staff far in advance (Lapel microphones or handheld? Podium? Projector?) so they’re ready when you arrive.
Event staff monitor the space and are there to help your presentation be successful. But be mindful that they can’t be everywhere at once—they need your eyes and ears to help ensure the atmosphere is conducive to rapt attention-paying, so self-advocate if something needs adjustment. Though many large-scale events shuffle room setup frequently, often you can visit your presentation space prior to your session. Arrive early to gauge temperature and, when possible, test audio quality.
Prior to beginning, double-check to ensure event staff will be monitoring capacity and communicate with them as needed. From a speaker’s perspective, an overflowing room is flattering, but it’s frustrating to those forced to stand at the back of the room and distracting to those already seated. Request assistance to bring in more seating, or alert people at the door that the room is full. You can also nominate someone in charge of closing room doors so nearby foot traffic isn’t distracting.
Be a strong focal point.
Avoid falling into the trap of letting your slides be a crutch. Your PowerPoint is not the story—you are. Don’t read from your slides. This happens most often when you haven’t dedicated much time to practicing your remarks. Take the time to rehearse. Your audience will notice.
Unless your presentation is a detailed product demonstration, your slides or visual aids should merely supplement your story—and for this, images offer more value than long bulleted lists. Ensure your slides will be visible around the room, and consider providing handouts of the slides before you begin so people can focus on you but easily take notes.
If you must have speaker notes, outline the key points of your remarks, but never read from a script.
Catchy titles take the cake.
Remember that however intriguing your topic, attendees have choices when they build their agendas, and those choices are based on a limited amount of information. Put effort into the title of your session to give it a boost above the fray. Not your strong suit? Ask a friend in marketing or social media to brainstorm with you.
For more inspiration, check out this roll-up of advice from our good friend Brent Ozar, or this quick guide on the subject of session titles and abstracts.
Deliver on what you promised in the program abstract.
By that same token, your session title and abstract should accurately reflect the content you’ll share. As a speaker, you’ve made a pact with the audience to deliver what you promised—so the “bait and switch” is a major breach of trust that will be uncovered quickly.
The level of each session is also important. Is this information relevant to attendees at any level? Would a newbie understand the content? Work with the event team to confirm your session is properly categorized to ensure the folks in the room can follow along and won’t lose interest.
You can also poll the room before you begin to gauge the audience’s familiarity with the content and adjust accordingly. If the room is heavy on industry veterans, you might choose to move more quickly through certain areas of your talk and invite more audience engagement about what they’ve seen in the field.
Experiment with alternative formats for your session.
Don’t be too quick to fall back on the ol’ “45-minute lecture, 15-minute Q&A” format. Take time to think about what format might best showcase your content. A moderated panel discussion? A 1:1 interview? A Q&A-driven discussion? Small group activities or a brainstorm?
If possible, consider also the time of day you’ll be presenting. An audience at 7:30 a.m. on the morning after a “networking event” will be on a different wavelength than a midday, well-fed, caffeinated crowd.
The uniqueness of your topic, paired with a format that deviates from the norm, will resonate with your audience long after they’ve left the conference.
When you think of the more memorable presentations you’ve seen, what makes them stand out? What’s your go-to presentation tip? Let us know in the comments below or @RelativityFest on Twitter.
April Runft is a member of the marketing communications team at kCura, specializing in content development.