Posted by Evgenia Galinskaya on 30 May, 2015
Women can feel like they are losing out at medical and leadership conferences, many of which are still dominated by men. In the first part you learnt about how to best prepare for the professional events, even if you are not a speaker.
In this (second) part of the article you will discover tips for presenting from stage and interacting from the audience.
• Impostor Syndrome
a) Feeling “like a fraud” is more common than you think (even Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep and Sheryl Sandberg get it).
b) Ask a mentor or a friend for a “reality check”.
c) Remember that the energy, passion and inspiration you bring are as important as content of your presentation.
d) Own your successes! Have a list of all your accomplishments at hand to remind yourself.
• Get into “Success State”
a) Arrive early to stand on stage / podium and visualise a successful presentation (notice and remember what you see, hear, feel).
b) Close your eyes and mentally connect to when you felt powerful, admired and successful.
• Body Language
a) Open posture (shoulders back, heart open) and heels help project confidence.
b) Briefly pause, smile, and just STAND there. Only then begin your presentation.
c) Don’t talk to the screen.
d) Eye contact with audience members in different parts of the room.
• Content delivery
a) Do not apologise or make excuses, such as “I’ve been asked to do this talk at the last minute” or “I have a terrible flu / jetlag…”. Your audience wants great content and performance – they don’t want to feel guilty that you are suffering because of them.
b) Be directive with audience about what they should pay attention to or remember.
c) Add pauses to emphasise important points.
d) Vary volume and tone of your voice.
• Q&A session
a) Acknowledge a question by repeating it.
b) If you don’t know the answer, say so and offer to find out.
c) Prepare neutral medium-length time-buying phrases (eg. “I’m trying to recall a time when it happened”).
d) To deflect “off-topic” questions, say “I wish I could delve into that topic – it’d take another session or two to cover” or use “That’s a thorny issue, isn’t it? Thanks for pointing that out”.
a) Receive any compliment with gratitude (internalise this compliment!), and offer to send a helpful resource to them.
Asking a question at a conference can be as intimidating as giving a talk yourself.
• Crafting questions
a) Prepare several questions but ask only your ‘best’ one.
b) Your questions should be relevant to at least 1/3 of audience.
c) Formulate questions that would enable the speaker to demonstrate their expertise further (e.g. asking to expand on an interesting point that was mentioned in passing).
• Be engaging
a) When asking a question, stand upright and mention your name.
• Stay focused
b) Observe what each speaker does well when presenting (e.g. structure of talk, delivery).
c) Take photos for tweets and future blogs.
d) Keep a list of useful action points and light bulb moments.
• Use Twitter
a) Include photos from the event and a conference hashtag.
b) Interact with other attendees who use the same hashtag by commenting on their tweets.
c) Use direct messaging to arrange to meet like-minded delegates during breaks.
d) Mention (@) the official organization in your tweets, saying that you are enjoying the event, or quote valuable insight you just heard on stage. You’ll be noticed.
• Express gratitude
a) Compliment the speakers whose talks you enjoyed (don’t wait for the feedback form). Don’t assume that senior or famous medics/academics are too confident to need support and appreciation.
In the third part, you will learn some great ways to shine during the conference networking, as well as what you should do after the event.