6 Steps to Include in Your Conference Presentation Checklist

Man Presenting to Crowd at Conference

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Patti Schutte

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As an association leader, you might have some public speaking experience from presenting at association meetings and other gatherings. Now, you’ve been invited to speak at a conference presentation. While this is an exciting new opportunity, conference presentations come with additional planning considerations to ensure your speech is engaging and effective. 

This is where a presentation checklist can come in handy. A checklist helps you determine the speaking skills you want to develop while ensuring that your presentation includes everything it needs to impress conference attendees. 

We’ve compiled this quick checklist to keep your planning process on track: 

  1. Plan an engaging hook. 
  2. Choose illuminating statistics. 
  3. Incorporate compelling visuals. 
  4. Design a powerful call to action. 
  5. Practice.
  6. Work with a presentation coach. 

You can engage your conference audience more effectively when your presentation is well-thought-out and organized. Let’s begin.

1. Plan an engaging hook. 

Typically, you wouldn’t want to start your presentation by launching straight into the main point of your speech. You’ll want to set the scene with an engaging, thought-provoking opening. 

Your hook is the captivating introduction you use to capture the audience’s attention and establish the foundation for the rest of your presentation.

Try one of these strategies to write your hook: 

  • Tell a personal story. Pull an anecdote from your personal life to demonstrate authority in your topic area. Personal stories lend more realism and authenticity to your presentation. Plus, you’ll be more comfortable remembering the details of your story since it came from your own experience. 
  • Start with a shocking fact. Spark your audience’s attention with a surprising fact or statistic that changes their mindset or helps them think about your topic in a new light. This can make your presentation much more memorable. 
  • Incorporate audience engagement. Interacting with the audience grabs their attention and allows them to engage with your presentation beyond just listening. Take a poll by asking for a show of hands or ask volunteers to answer a question you pose to the audience. 

Research the conference audience ahead of time to determine the types of introductions that will be most appealing to them. For example, you might choose to tell a different story whether your audience is made of mostly younger or older association members. Your speech should resonate with audience members and show that you understand their interests and concerns. 

2. Choose illuminating statistics. 

Back up your narrative with facts and data. Incorporating relevant statistics gives your presentation greater credibility and helps further the audience’s understanding of the topic. 

You might use data from your association or general sector reports. Either way, make sure your data is accurate and clear. Site your sources and provide any necessary additional context for the statistics and data you share. 

3. Incorporate compelling visuals. 

If you have the opportunity to use visuals to support your presentation, choose your images and slides wisely. You don’t want audience members to get distracted from what you’re saying by using visuals that are difficult to understand in relation to your speech.

If you want to use photos, make sure they are simple, relevant, and authentic. Also, ensure the images have just one clear focal point. Photos that show faces are particularly effective, as studies have shown that brain activity is strongly stimulated by viewing these types of images. 

Using graphic design, such as infographics, can also be a great way to display your data in a visual format. These graphics should also only display one concept or statistic so audience members don’t feel overwhelmed or confused. Adjust the font so audience members sitting at the back of the room can see it just as well as members sitting up front. 

4. Design a powerful call to action. 

Your conference presentation should have an impactful, memorable conclusion. Your conclusion is your chance to leave attendees with a thought-provoking idea that keeps them thinking about your presentation even after it concludes. 

Consider using one of these conclusion ideas to leave a lasting impression:

  • A memorable quote. Ending with a memorable quote from a famous figure, a prominent leader in your industry, or someone you know personally can help spark emotion or wrap up your presentation neatly. 
  • A clear call to action. You can also end your presentation by telling attendees the next steps they can take to learn more about your topic, get involved in a new initiative, or improve their own association operations. Make sure to provide flyers with a link or QR code if you’re instructing attendees to visit a website. 
  • An ending to your story. If you started your presentation with a story, you can wrap up with the story’s conclusion. This provides a sense of closure for audience members and brings your presentation full circle. 

According to Fonteva’s member engagement guide, association events like conferences don’t just offer learning opportunities—they’re also a chance to network with fellow association attendees. Allow presentation attendees to reach out after your presentation for more information or questions. This helps you grow stronger, mutually-beneficial bonds with other association staff. 

5. Practice.

After you’ve built your conference presentation with an exciting introduction, illuminating statistics, compelling images, and a memorable conclusion, it’s time to practice delivering it. 

Be Brilliant Presentation Group recommends conducting three types of practice sessions: 

  • Practice 1 involves perfecting your delivery of the visual elements, verbal skills, and word choices. 
  • Practice 2 should focus on delivering the visuals along with the technical elements of your presentation, including props, audience engagement, and body movement. 
  • Practice 3 brings together the visuals and technical elements along with the nonverbal aspects of your speech, including body language and facial expressions. 

If you’re preparing for a virtual conference, your practice steps will look a little different. You can practice by recording yourself giving your presentation and watching it back. Make sure you look through and beyond the camera for natural eye contact, relax your facial expressions, and speak clearly. 

6. Work with a presentation coach. 

If you feel like you need additional support at any point during the preparation process, don’t hesitate to seek out conference speaker training. A presentation coach can help you by:

  • Identifying your strengths and creating a presentation that plays to those strengths.
  • Developing a practice strategy that works with your learning style.
  • Providing support on the day of the conference, helping with everything from last-minute practice to setting up your visual presentation.

Working with a coach can be particularly helpful if you’re preparing for your first-ever conference presentation. You can approach the presentation like a pro rather than a novice. 


By following this checklist and reaching out to a speaking coach when necessary, you can create a conference presentation that exceeds expectations and establishes yourself and your association as a thought leader. 


About the Author: Patti Schutte is the CEO, Founder, and Principal Coach of Be Brilliant Presentation Group. Be Brilliant Presentation Group’s coaching system results in speakers moving from fear and avoidance to confidence and purpose. 

If fear of presenting runs through the veins of the majority, then Patti is the minority. She’ll be the one to grab the mic and quickly have the room engaged, laughing, and learning. Not skills you’d expect from someone who has a degree in mathematics. Her unique combination of being analytically minded, extroverted, charismatic, and skilled in presenting and training has guided her career journey. Her diverse presentation experiences include classroom and corporate training, growing and motivating an independent sales force, developing a team of national presenters, speaking at conferences, and transforming the presentation skill of professionals. She believes everyone deserves the advantage of brilliant presentation and speaking skills. 

If you are tired of giving subpar presentations, frustrated by the opportunity loss you’ve experienced, want to streamline your presentation process, and are motivated to learn and improve, Be Brilliant Presentation Group is ready to work with you! Patti’s four step process efficiently gets you from the brainstorming phase to completed, well practiced slides that you’re proud of and a feeling of preparedness for your presentation. Patti has had many people say they accomplish more in 30 minutes with her than they did in two full days without her. 

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