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Behind-the-Scenes: 5 Tips for Successful Presentations and Conferences

This week, I had the privilege of hosting two uniquely themed workshops at the United Way of Broward County Conference in Fort Lauderdale: "Choose to Be Super: Why Wearing a C.A.P.E. Makes You a Hero" and "Motivational Interviewing for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers."

Before proceeding, I want to give the United Way of Broward County a BIG shout-out! The conference was phenomenal, and the attendees’ energy was incredible! 👏👏👏👏

Here are five crucial behind-the-scenes tips that saved the day and could help any presenter turn potential challenges into big wins.

1. Embrace Conference Technology: The Whova App

Initially skeptical, I've learned that leveraging the conference app, like Whova, is essential. It's more than just a schedule in your pocket; it allows for pre-event audience engagement through polls and discussions, enhances brand visibility, and facilitates continued connection with attendees post-event. Don’t skip on this; it can transform your presentation experience.

📱 Tip: Install and use the conference-specific app a few days before the conference to maximize engagement.

Example: Before my workshop, I used Whova to send out polls and gather questions. This pre-engagement gave me insights into my audience’s expectations and helped tailor my content to their interests.


2. Always Have a Backup: The Savior USB Drive

Never rely solely on conference tech for your presentation. At a recent workshop, a pre-loaded presentation mishap could have spelled disaster if not for my trusty USB drive loaded with the original files. Checking the pre-loaded presentation ahead of time allowed me to correct the formatting issues unnoticed by the organizers, ensuring professionalism and polish.

💾 Tip: Always bring a presentation backup on a USB drive.

Example: Despite submitting my slides in advance, I discovered formatting errors during a pre-event check. Having my USB allowed me to quickly switch to the correct version, ensuring a smooth presentation.



3. Flexibility Wins: The Art of Timing

Hosting the conference's first workshop taught me valuable lessons in timing. Instead of starting in a half-empty room, I delayed the beginning by 15 minutes. This minor adjustment meant more attendees could participate, enhancing the workshop’s impact without sacrificing essential content.

⏱ Tip: Be flexible with your start times based on attendee availability.

Example: Noticing many attendees were late due to prior networking, I delayed the start of my workshop by 15 minutes, which allowed for greater participation and a fuller room. I used the delay to make small talk with attendees and create a friendly and open atmosphere. When the workshop ended, there was standing room only.


4. Leave a Lasting Impression: Physical Takeaways

Underestimating attendee engagement can leave you unprepared. Bringing 75 books seemed sufficient, but the demand exceeded the supply during the first session! Whether it’s books, SWAG, or business cards, having a physical takeaway can help cement your impact, making the moment memorable long after the event concludes.

📚 Tip: Provide memorable takeaways for your attendees.

Example: I brought 75 books to distribute, thinking it would suffice for two sessions. The overwhelming demand at the first workshop taught me to always prepare for higher engagement levels.


5. Adapt and Engage: The Power of Pivoting

Post-lunch sessions can be a presenter's nightmare due to the usual post-meal slump. Recognizing the need to energize the room, I introduced unplanned, dynamic activities that captured and maintained the audience's attention throughout the session. Being adaptable isn’t just a skill; it’s a necessary strategy for engaging a diverse audience effectively.

🎤 Tip: Be ready to modify your session on the fly to match the energy of the room.

Example: Post-lunch, to combat the afternoon energy dip, I introduced two unplanned interactive activities that energized and engaged the audience immediately. When the workshop ended, many attendees stayed behind, requesting more conversation and tips!


In conclusion, these insights from the front lines of conference workshops have refined my approach and proven universally applicable in many speaking contexts. Whether you’re a seasoned speaker or a novice, remember that success often lies in preparation, adaptability, and genuine engagement with your audience.

And NEVER forget, you got this!

Have you faced similar challenges in your speaking engagements? Share your stories and strategies in the comments below, or connect with me through social media to continue the conversation.



*Statements on this blog reflect the author's personal opinions and do not represent any other person, company, or organization. The purpose of this blog is to provide general knowledge and to raise awareness of tools, techniques, people, and organizations that bring about positive change. The reader is strongly encouraged to perform independent research about the topics discussed.

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