Advice for speakers

Preparing your slides for a Symposium conference

Speakers are asked to prepare their presentation in ample time prior to the conference. In general, we ask that you send the presentation to us two weeks prior to the event.

We need the presentation to

  • Ensure it is compatible with the audio visual projection system and is scheduled for your presentation.
  • Print copies for inclusion in the conference documentation which is presented to delegates.

Slides can be provided in a variety of formats, although Powerpoint is the most common. Please advise us if you have any special requests or needs.

With PowerPoint or similar format slides, we suggest that you try and keep bullet points brief – the ‘Rule of Five’ (five points on a page with five words to each point) is a good model to bear in mind.

Large file sizes (over 8MB), video and sound files etc. can be difficult to email – if you are emailing these, please check with us to ensure they have been received.

If you have any queries, please call our logistics department on 020 7231 5100.

Advice on speaking

A conference speech should be seen as an opportunity for your business to impress the delegates. It is very easy to give a bad presentation because of nerves, obscure messages, poor slides or poor preparation. But it is possible to conquer these problems:

Overcoming nerves

Although some techniques, such as breathing exercises, can help calm your nerves, the best way of overcoming your nervousness is rehearsal. You should prepare your message thoroughly so that you know exactly what you are going to say. This includes familiarising yourself with the technology you intend to use. At Symposium’s conferences, a member of our team will run you through the audio visual controls when you arrive to speak and a qualified techician is always on hand to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Relevance

Ensure that your message is relevant to your audience. If you tailor your speech to your audience, they are more likely to respond favourably to that message. The audience will also want you to personalise your speech, so as to make them feel like you are talking to them individually. Similarly, introduce yourself to your audience before you start so they know what you offer and what they can expect (although don’t go on at length listing your products and services!).

Simplicity

Although you do not want patronise your audience, it is vital that the content of your presentation is clear. The audience will still expect, however, your wealth of knowledge to be demonstrated in your presentation. Try also to keep the speech succinct. Recent studies show that today’s audiences’ attention span is about 1000 seconds.

Presentation

Speak with clarity, both in terms of your message and your pronunciation. You should avoid jargon, especially when you are talking about ideas and methods the audience may be unfamiliar with. Good pronunciation is absolutely crucial to understanding. It is important not to mumble nor speak too quickly because they demonstrate a lack of confidence and make it harder for the audience to follow your argument. Clarity, confidence and persuasion are valuable skills, which all professionals should endeavour to improve. For a significant improvement in image and effectiveness, organisations should ensure that all executives are able to make powerful and persuasive presentations. You should be well prepared for questions you are most likely to be asked but try not to be over-prepared or over-rehearse. You should aim to be polished, yet appear spontaneous. Variety is absolutely key in bringing a speech to life. You should try to use lots of highs and lows in your voice, changes in pace and differences in emotional content. Your appearance is also important; you should be smartly dressed in black, navy or other neutral colours.

Structure

A speech should have a tight structure, with a clear message throughout. The audience must be captivated from the beginning, and this could be achieved through an anecdote, quote or question. The start is also important, because it sets the tone for the rest of the speech. If you state your argument clearly from the beginning, the audience will be enticed to listen to the rest of your talk. Similarly, a punchy ending is needed to leave a lasting impression of your conclusion in the audience’s mind. You should remember to leave enough time for questions from the audience too, because nothing makes a speaker look better than two-way communication.

Powerpoint Presentations

These days nearly everyone uses Powerpoint. It’s a great tool – but it has some draw backs as well.

We suggest you limit yourself to no more than five bullet points per slide and ideally no more than five words per bullet point.

Remember also that people will use your slides after the event to recall your comment and share your wisdom with collegue – so try to make the slides meaningful to someone who may not have heard your full explanation.

When presenting, try not to simply ready your bullet points out loud. Use them a backup from which to expand and explain, and as a structure to keep you speaking on topic and to time.