As if PowerPoint presentations weren’t enough to worry about for business meetings, it’s a whole different animal for conferences. Even the best speakers can struggle with effective presentations that match their topics and keep their audience interested.
As you probably know, PowerPoint presentation design depends in large part on your audience. While you can easily gain and keep the attention of a 7-10 member conference room with factual information, the same isn’t necessarily true for a conference hall of 200 or more people. Competing for your attention are small talk, mobile devices and laptops. So what do you do?
The key is to adjust your PowerPoint presentation for exactly that situation. You can do so in three clear steps:
1) Keep it Simple.
No matter how many people are listening, your PowerPoint should never be a detailed regurgitation of your actual speech. That being said, it’s even more crucial to keep your slides simple and visually-focused when talking to a large crowd.
The distance between the crowd and the screen is much greater, and they’ll be much willing to read sentences or numbers. Keeping your presentation focused on images and single words instead will be much more effective.
2) Keep it Up-Beat
Always remember that you’re just one of many presenters at the conference. They key is to stand out, to be memorable enough to your audience that they’ll remember your key takeaways after they return to work. One way to do just that is through humor. But be careful to test your jokes extensively before including them, and have a backup ready in case they don’t take.
Bestselling author Ann Handley likes to use the popular #sassybats meme when discussing the impact a simple change in perspective can make. Others prefer using real examples of funny ways in which specific marketing or businesses have failed. No matter which direction you go, a well-placed joke or the general up-beat nature of your presentation can make your audience remember you.
3) Let Your Presentation do the Talking
Finally, consider including a few slides which are completely self-explanatory. Silence can be a powerful attention-grabbing tool. By suddenly stopping your oral presentation and simply looking at your PowerPoint, you can direct your audience’s attention to where you need them to be.
Alternatively, consider including videos in your presentation. But be careful: not every conference is set up for audio, and not every video works. Again, extensive testing before the conference can help ensure that this is a valuable tactic in your specific situation.
In short, creating a PowerPoint for a conference includes some subtle but important differences to creating a PowerPoint presentation for a business meeting that are important to keep in mind as you prepare for your big speech.