Presenting to any sized group can be a difficult undertaking. But presenting to large groups comes with its own unique challenges.
In this article we’ll look at some simple but effective tips you can use to ensure your presentation goes smoothly and the audience receives your core message.
Check the Equipment
Large groups require large venues, and the kind of equipment and technology used may be different than what you’re used to. For instance, wireless technology may allow you to control your slides. You may also be using a wireless microphone that will make it easy for you to move around the stage.
This is the good news. The bad news is, the more advanced the technology, the more apt things are to go wrong.
Be sure to show up to the event early so you can check all of the equipment you will be using. Find the person in charge of tech and ask for help if you need it.
Fake Eye Contact if You Have To
Large presentation usually require dimming the lights and using spotlights. This makes it incredibly difficult to see your audience members. On top of this, you may be projected onto a large screen behind you so the people in the back of the room can see you.
You’re going to have to look around the room as you would in a smaller presentation. Fake eye contact if you need to and scan the audience as best you can. It will appear to your audience that you are engaging with them personally.
Get Some Energy
While it’s important for all presenters to have energy during their speech, it’s particularly important for large crowds. When you’re up on that big stage in front of all of those people, you have got to project as much energy and excitement as you can, or you’ll simply be swallowed up and ignored.
Make sure to get a good night’s sleep, have a breakfast that won’t make you sleepy (consider some eggs and a large fruit salad for energy), and, when waiting backstage, remain standing, walk around, even do jumping jacks to get your heart and blood pumping.
Use Your Voice
Just because you’ll be wired with a mic doesn’t mean you can mumble and speak in a monotone voice. That’s one of the quickest ways to get your audience checking their emails on their iPhones.
And remember, don’t speak too quickly. You’re not having a regular, intimate conversation with friends – you’re trying to have your very important message land with 100s of audience members.
Keep it Simple
The more audience members there are, the more chance you have of losing them to an overabundance of facts and data. Keep things simple. Your goal is not to confuse your audience, but to answer a few questions for them, namely:
- How can you solve their problem?
- How big of a problem is it really?
- Why are you the best company for the job?
Tell a Story
There is one thing all great presentations do – they tell a story.
No audience, regardless of the size, is going to get excited by bullet points and industry jargon. What will hook them and hold their attention is a good, ol’ fashioned story that makes them feel something.
“But I’m not a writer,” you might be saying. You don’t have to be. You could simply tell “a day in the life” story of one of your potential users. You should already know your customer personas. What is their life like? How do they struggle? What keeps them up at night? In identifying themselves in this story and persona, your audience will be completely engaged.
Choose the Right Speaking Slot
Most speakers assume they have no control over the time they will be speaking. You may be surprised to hear that you can ask the conference organizer for a preferred time and often your request will be granted.
With this in mind, here are some guidelines for choosing the right slot:
- If you can help it, don’t be the first speaker. Many people show up late and they’ll miss your presentation.
- For the same reason, don’t be the first speaker after lunch break.
- Choose a slot in the morning, before people have a food coma or are bored by other speakers. Also, by speaking early, you leave yourself enough time to make connections later in the day.
- And finally, never, under any circumstances, speak at 5PM on a Friday after a 3-day conference. Your large group will become a very small one.
Speaking in front of a large crowd can make even seasoned presenters nervous. One of the best ways to combat these nerves is to feel 100% confident. And one of the best ways to do that is to be 100% prepared.
Practice as much as you can before your presentation. Practice alone in front of a mirror. Practice in front of friends, family and colleagues. The more you do, the better able you’ll be to flawlessly deliver your presentation despite being under a lot of pressure.
Presenting to a large group can be very manageable if you follow these 8 tips.