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Deliver a Presentation

Your guide to reaching your audience

Speaking at an industry event is an opportunity for both personal and professional growth. The effort you expend to reach your audience will strengthen your communication skills in all aspects of your career. The MGMA Speaker Resource Hub provides a great deal of information to help you become a better presenter and ensure that you get the most from your conference speaking experience.

Face-to-face Presentation Requirements, Tips and Resources

  • Speaker Presentation Delivery Guidelines
  • A YouTube interview with Garr Reynolds, who is known for his work in presentation design.
  • Fight for What's Right – In this five-minute video, Nancy Duarte stresses the importance of using presentations for the right types of information and creating your slides with the audience in mind.
  • slide:ology – Nancy Duarte's book is full of practical approaches to visual story development and insightful case studies from the world's leading brands. The author's design firm also maintains a blog.

Speaker Engagement Tips

  • Participant polling – Use polls to query the audience about their thoughts, their practices or their understanding of your topic. At the beginning of your presentation, consider testing their knowledge of your topic and adjusting your content accordingly. Poll tool options:
    • Poll Everywhere: Free, web-based tool that allows audience responses from a text message-enabled phone, Twitter or the web.
  • Question-and-answer tools – Avoid the post-presentation shuffle to the microphone and allow attendees to post their inquiries throughout your presentation. Consider stopping to answer time-sensitive questions throughout the discussion or posing others to the audience at the end. Question-and-answer tool option:
    • Live Question Tool: Free, web-based tool that invites audience members to submit questions and vote on others.
  • Back-channel communication – Generate buzz among attendees and encourage audience members to share links, respond to questions or add their own commentary through an outside channel, such as social media. Consider assigning a specific hash tag to your session so attendees can relate their Twitter or Facebook posts to your session and consider "seeding" the conversation by using Twtpoll to ask attendees questions or mining the Twitter stream for questions or key ideas. Other back-channel communication tools include:
    • Twitter: Free, web-based tool that allows participants to have a back-channel conversation by following a hash tag that's been set up around the event. (Twitter account required.)
    • Facebook: Free, web-based tool that allows participants to have a back-channel conversation by following a hash tag that's been set up around the event. (Facebook account required.)
  • Participant collaboration – Consider asking attendees to contribute to discussion questions and share collective knowledge as you present. Set up a publicly shared document with seeded discussion questions or prompts and return to the document throughout your presentation to note any key ideas. Ideal for brief team work during extended workshops. Participant collaborations tool opton:
    • Google Docs: Free, cloud-based tool that allows attendees to create a document and share the link with fellow collaborators.

Podium Tips

Seven things to remeber when you're at the podium:
  1. Speak up and be heard. Use the microphone to ensure that everyone in the room can hear your presentation and to improve the quality of any recording in progress. Test the audio before you begin speaking and ask if you can be heard clearly. Even if your voice projects, err on the side of using the microphone – you will not be too loud.
  2. Introduce yourself. Briefly introduce yourself and your institution, and explain your expertise as it relates to the topic. Find ways to learn more about your participants such as asking for a show of hands to pinpoint their functional areas or quickly polling them to gauge their expertise as related to the topic. Strive to accomplish this in under five minutes. Be sure that you keep your personal introduction brief. Remember, the audience is there to learn about your topic, not your employment history.
  3. Repeat questions for others. When attendees stand up to ask a question, they are directing it – and their voices – toward the front of the room, making it difficult for other participants to hear. Take a moment to repeat each question for others before answering.
  4. Keep the topic hot. If participants start to disengage, employ strategies such as stopping for Q&A, polling the audience or sharing a story related to the topic. Consider preparing someone in the audience to seed a question in the event that the audience is not responding.
  5. Keep it conversational. Smile, keep your chin up and strike a conversational tone. Make sure you are speaking slowly enough for people to hear and follow your points. Mark Twain was right: A well-timed pause can be valuable. As tempting as it may be, especially if you are nervous and worried about skipping a critical point, do not read your presentation. You will do much better if you just glance at bullets that remind you of what you want to convey.
  6. Keep the time. Keep tabs on the clock to leave enough time for participant dialogue. Ask your session convener – or another volunteer – to warn you when your time is ending.
  7. Continue the conversation. Provide ways for the participants to easily connect with you and access your resources and materials after the session. Consider providing your email address, website or Twitter ID and indicate what materials you will make available in the conference proceedings (PowerPoint slides, URLS, etc.).

What else do you need help with?
Proposal  Design

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