Conferences have come a long way in the last few years. People just don’t attend a presentation, take down notes, ask a few questions and leave but they expect something more. As a conference presenter, here’re some useful tools (and tips) that may help you get the most out of your session.
Once the details of your session has been finalized, set up a Google Moderator page to get an idea of what people expect to gain from your presentation. They may also send you questions in advance through the Moderator’s page and, because time for Q&A is often limited in conferences, you may address the most popular questions just after you are done with the presentation.
It will help if you can create a public Facebook event for your session. You’ll not only know who is keen to attend your session but as people RSVP the event, their action will help spread word about your event in their respective Facebook circles. You may also set up a separate Twitter list with handles of all people who are possible attendees as you can then easily keep track of all the chatter related to the event.
If you are speaking at a big conference, the organizers may have already set up live streaming for your session but if that’s not the case, go live yourself with the help of services like UStream or LiveStream. You may either use the web cam attached to your laptop to live-stream the conference or use one of their mobile apps to broadcast your session directly from the phone. If one of the attendees is kind enough to live-blog your session, you may suggest him to use Cover It Live or even Google Docs.
Here’s one time-saving tip from Seth Godin that you should try in your next presentation. Prepare a slideshow with photos of people who you would like to acknowledge (or thank) and run this slideshow in a loop ten minutes before your actual presentation while everyone is still busy finding their seats. This way, you get to thank people but without boring anyone.
If you would like to make your presentation more interactive, you can consider adding live polls to your slides. There are online services like Polls Everywhere where audience can respond by sending text messages and you can then show the poll results inside the PowerPoint slide itself in near real-time. Alternatively, you may also conduct quick polls using Google Docs – Google offers a mobile-friendly site for polls and thus, people can participate from their mobile browser itself.
Some people in the audience would be live-tweeting your presentation and if you would like to show those tweets on the big screen, you have two options. You may either get one of these PPT templates that use Adobe Flash to fetch tweets into your slides or the other alternative is Live Web - this is a free add-in that lets you embed any webpage into PowerPoint. You can embed backchannel Twitter chatter (say, search results for a hashtag), Google Moderator pages, and more.
The last slide of your presentation will mostly have your contact information - if you can put all this inside a QR Code, the audience can easily save your information to their mobile phones without having to type anything. If possible, make good use of Speaker Notes, invisible to the audience, to deliver a flawless presentation on the lines of Steve Jobs.
When you are done with the presentation, you can use a service like Speaker Rate to get instant feedback from the audience on your session. If people have been using a consistent hashtag to live-tweet your session, you can use Hashalbum and The Archivist to save all the pictures and tweets from your session in one place. You may also use Lanyrd or any of the other content curation tools to collect all the buzz - videos, presentations, links, etc. - around your session.
Some people will obviously want to have a copy of your presentation after the session. There are services like SlideShare, Issuu, Scribd and Docs.com where you can upload the deck though I would recommend that you convert the slides to PDF before putting them online to prevent modification.
SlideShare attracts the maximum eyeballs, Docs.com is very tightly integrated with Facebook, Issuu offers the best presentation player but one big advantage with Scribd is the “send to mobile” option – users can directly send your slides from Scribd to their mobile phone, Kindle, iPad, Nook or any other device for offline viewing.
Here are some addition tips on giving effective presentations.