Become the presenter attendees want to see & conference planners invite back

Pretty, young business woman giving a presentation

We’ve launched into the multifamily conference season! It’s a magical time where industry leaders and top-performing executives share their tips, tricks and strategies on all things apartment housing. But as you go into these sessions, have you ever wondered just how each panelist got on stage?

As a PR and marketing practitioner in the industry for more than a decade (wow, not sure how that happened so quickly!), I have attended my fair share of conferences. There have been some truly memorable sessions that were funny, engaging and, in a sense, real. Unfortunately, I have also attended some session that were memorable for all the wrong reasons. These sessions fell flat from the beginning. They were disorganized and the speakers seemed nervous.

A key part of my job is to help clients, and their clients, set the standard for thought-provoking, educational and tactically focused conference sessions. I wish I could share a formula that would automatically make you the speaker people want to see and a speaker who conference planners want to invite back, but each conference and speaker is different. Still, I can share four tried and true strategies you should engage to get on the road to becoming an in-demand speaker:

Content is King
When developing a session abstract or a session idea, it is all about your content. But don’t make the assumption the content is about what YOU want to say. The best abstracts are designed to meet what conference planners are looking for by bringing new and engaging content to their attendees.

Before you dive head first into developing an abstract or session idea that is in your wheelhouse, take some time to look at past conferences. Can you take a new angle on a topic? Can you effectively challenge what has been shared in the past to get attendees thinking differently? Consider working with someone outside of your company to help identify areas where you can be unique and bring something new.

Sweat the Small Stuff
No, I am not saying you need to stress and freak out over this presentation. But I do want you to pay close attention to detail. Everything about your preparation will impact the success of the presentation. I know this seems like common sense but failing here will make or break a session.

It’s important to design your session around thoughtful content and the abstract. If you sold your abstract with the promise of data, don’t just say you have data. Show them the data! Get that data together now – no seriously, get the data.

If your session is more theoretical, determine how you will deliver the content in a way that everyone can digest, and provide tactical takeaways. Think simple and concise bullet points to drive your message home.

Respect Your Fellow Panelists
When presenting on a panel, one of the biggest keys to success is taking an active role in the session development. It can be difficult to effectively prepare on conference calls, because everyone multi-tasks while on conference calls. I urge you to not treat these calls as time to catch up on emails, but as opportunities to really dig into the content.

I know participating in a conference session is not your fulltime job but taking some time every day to prep your content prior to the next planning call is greatly appreciated. Taking time here to sweat the small stuff for you and your fellow panelists will ensure greater success on stage.

Practice, Practice and then Practice Some More
This is where you check your ego at the door. We have all seen a well-known, well-respected industry professional not stick the landing when it came time to present – and it was hard to watch. It wasn’t because they didn’t know what they were talking about. It might have been a result of assuming they could just “wing it.”

You have taken the time to create great content for your presentation, don’t let it fall flat in delivery. Take the time to practice. Practice in front of the mirror (this is how I learned I talk out of the corner of my mouth), ask a colleague to sit in while you practice, or even consider recording yourself.

Taking the time to practice will in fact make it perfect.

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