Conducting a seminar, conference, strategic planning session or facilitated corporate meeting is a unique type of challenge. You are an outsider being brought in to make a relevant presentation to a group of people who know their industry better than you ever could no matter how long a time you’ve have to prepare for the event. Stay relevant and hold your audience’s attention by following the practical tips below.
Know the Facts
Be clear on the purpose of your talk. Are you mediating, helping chart the company’s future direction, clarifying procedural issues? Being clear on the facts will greatly influence what you bring to the discussion table and how you go about your presentation. You may have wonderful ideas about streamlining their operations, but if you are mediating between management and staff, you must address their issues and leave your personal agenda at the door.
Company Brochure and Marketing Materials
Get to know the company by reading their own literature. Ask your contact person for the company profile, recent marketing materials, etc. so you’ll get a flavor of the image that the company projects to the outside world. This self-understanding can help you formulate your ideas, structure your presentation and generally communicate and relate better to your audience.
Talk to Your Contact Person
The company person who contacts you is an excellent source of information. Find out as much as you can about the ethos of the company, the personalities involved both at the helm and on the ground, the history of the company, etc. Use this information as a jumping board for your presentation.
Research the Industry
Having a broad understanding of your client’s field of interest and operation is always helpful. Know their standing in the industry, who their competition is, the local and worldwide factors that influence the direction of the industry as a whole, etc. Timely background information will keep you talk relevant and interesting.
Talk to the Participants
Chat with the early birds and other participants during breaks and get their two cents’ worth on the topics. Although not substantive or in-depth, this will still give you a sense of the existing status quo in the company and may help you fine tune your presentation.
If you find facilitating meetings particularly challenging, taking our onsite and online facilitation training courses can help. We also have seasoned strategic planning facilitators who can help you steer your company to new heights of success. For those who wish to explore this exciting field as a career option, taking our professional facilitator training course is the perfect place to begin.