Preparing for a Talk
I often get asked to do talks at various events about my business activities.
From small ladies groups, to Women's Institute meetings, business networking events and charity get togethers, it doesn't matter how large or small the same amount of preparation should be undertaken.
When I am asked to participate as a speaker I always ask some very imprtant questions beforehand, such as how long am I required to speak for, how many attendees are expected, what are the demographics of the attendees, what's the main purpose of the event and what presentation facilities are available. Of course, you should also ask about venue location, access, and meeting start and end times so you can allow enough time to get setup. I also ask about other speakers and what topics they are talking about, so that you can research beforehand and then when introduced you can appear knowledgeable about their work.
Another good question is to ask about the layout of the room. Will it be conference style, or seating around tables, boadroom style around a single table, or just a circle of chairs ? This is all very important as you can pitch your talk differently depending on the layout of the room. The smaller the group, the more interaction you will need. Also, if the audience are sitting at tables then it's more likely they will take notes.
If you are promoting a product or service then it's always a good idea to ask if you can pre-distribute leaflets or flyers on the seats or tables beforehand. You may also be able to have a table on the side for people to browse your products during breaks etc. This is always a great idea if you have products to sell as people quite often like to have something to take home with them. Yo should take your credit card payment facility with you though as unexpected sales often involve card purchases rather than cash.
One rule of thumb that has proven useful is to obtain the business cards of the other speakers and professionals attending. Always good to have made new contacts so that you can keep in touch and perhaps work together again in the future.
The most important thing you need to do beforehand is practice your talk. Write down the key points on small cards if necessary and time yourself so that you don't overrun. Practice with a family member or colleague to ensure your timings are good.
On the day of the event you should ensure that you arrive early with all your equipment etc ready to be installed prior to the start of the event. This could include stand up banners, sales and promotional tables or other displays. Always have a good supply of business cards and leaflets available and some samples of your work if you are not selling on the day. I usually have a notebook and pen handy too to take down details of any inquiries i may receive.
The final thing you should always do on the day is to thank the host for inviting you, and follow this up with a further thank you email. You would be surprised as to how few people send a thank you email, and by exception you will automatically gain favour with the organiser and be invited to future events.