I’m always amazed at the great content associations put together, year after year. Every day, we help them collect the materials that go on to serve as the foundation for their conferences.
But when it comes to a conference, collecting great content can only go so far. After choosing the sessions and printing the program books, it’s time for the content to come to life (literally): it’s presentation time!
A major part of creating a positive attendee experience rests on the quality of the sessions. This puts a lot of responsibility on your presenters to deliver their information in a dynamic and memorable way. But you don’t have to leave it all up to them…
There are steps you can take in the conference planning process to help your presenters. Think back to the presentations at your last conference. How much variation did you see in presentation styles? Did it feel like each presentation could have been part of the same speech? The presenter’s toolbox consists of more than reading from PowerPoint slides these days.
Fast forward to your next selection process.
As you sift through your next batch of submissions, make a point to create a more dynamic event from the start. Keep these tips handy as you plan which presentations to include. These techniques will lead to impactful presentations that engage the audience. Your presenters—and attendees—will thank you!
Create presentations that engage the senses
A presenter standing in the front of the room and speaking at the audience is leaving many options for engagement on the table.
Speakers are typically asked to submit their presentations ahead of time, as part of the selection process. Be on the lookout for slide decks that are heavy on text but light on imagery. As Dave Lutz recently pointed out, we are all visual learners. The combination of images and oral narration result in a significantly higher recall rate. Remind your submitter of this the next time you see a PowerPoint presentation that looks like a Word doc.
Another format that is big on engagement is video. Instead of talking about how something happens, ask your presenter if there is a video that can actually show the process. Video interviews are also perfect for bringing other expert opinions into the presentation. Whether explaining or expanding on an idea, a short video will keep your audience’s interest.
Props can be a fun and illustrative way to engage the audience, too. Having a physical representation of the topic at hand can create an interactive connection with the audience. The result is a way of bringing a concept to life in a style clip art cannot!
Format presentations to encourage participation
There is no best way to present a topic, but there sure is a most common way.
A single presenter in front of a roomful of listeners is a tired and… oops, sorry about that typo, it should be “tried” and true method for conference presentations. But there is an increasing focus on changing the room dynamics to make learning a two-way conversation.
Make a point to incorporate some new learning models into your next conference. Set a goal to have a percentage of your sessions be different than the standard lecturer/listener format. The number of sessions you choose to include should be realistic for your conference, based on your submissions.
Some popular approaches include hosting a moderator-led panel discussion, or an interactive workshop presentation. Both of these presentation styles are well suited for encouraging audience participation.
Dynamic presentations lead to better outcomes
Creating a memorable experience can help attendees remember content
Creating unique in-person learning experiences has long lasting benefits, as well. When attendee’s re-visit your conference’s content on a USB or digital publishing platform later, the material will trigger memories of the experiences they had at the conference. This creates an added value that can’t be replicated through viewing the online materials alone.
Encouraging dynamic presentations is an effective way to help presenters connect with the audience. It can also increase learners’ retention of the presented information. Keep these tips in mind to help your presenters help you create a memorable conference experience!