My RD Journey

From Undergrad -> Internship -> RD -> Private Practice!


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5 Tips for Speaking at Conferences

Welcome back to “My RD Journey!” If you read my last blog post, you will already know that this post is all about my first time speaking at a large conference (The Inaugural Women in Business Conference hosted by the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce). I was able to lead an individual breakout session and also serve as a panelist for a discussion on balance. In the past, I have lead seminars, given talks to students, conducted cooking classes and more; however, this was the first conference I was apart of. Today’s post, I will recap for you my (awesome) experience, plus give you tips that I learned along the way.

Tip #1 – Keep it Simple & Organized
I decided that for my individual session, I would touch on general nutrition (building a healthy plate) needs and motivation. I find with my clients that a lot know what to do; however, putting it into action is the hardest part. I wasn’t totally sure of my audience beforehand, so I tried to keep it basic and relate-able. I, for one, hate dry presentations, so I mixed up some of the general education with a few myth-busters throughout. I did use a PowerPoint; however, I didn’t put a ton of words on the slides because I didn’t want the audience to just be reading versus listening. I am definitely one that will completely stray from my outline, which isn’t a bad thing, so I didn’t want the audience trying to find where I was on the slides. One key thing here is that while having a lot of information is great, remember to keep it organized. Don’t jump around too much since you might lose the interest of your group.

Tip #2 – Allow Time for Questions
You can decide whether or not to have participants ask questions throughout your presentation or just at the end. I usually say that they can ask questions throughout if they need clarification; however, I do ask them to otherwise wait until the end. I do this mainly because I had a few instances where people just constantly asked questions and I couldn’t get through all the material. Sometimes the questions were relevant to the topic and other times they were too specific for others in the class to benefit from them. I let the participants know I allotted time for questions at the end and I stuck to my timeline to keep to that.

Tip #3 – Have Evaluations
Getting feedback on your presentation is key! Sometimes, participants in my seminars don’t ask any questions and their facial expressions lead me to think they are bored out of their minds. After doing a lot of different presentations over the years, I found that a lot of people don’t want to ask questions for a few reasons. Some think their questions are “stupid” – I have never had a “stupid” serious question. Some would rather ask questions individually after the session. Some are just taking in all the information and don’t have questions just yet. There are so many reasons for lack of questions. With all that being said, the evaluations are a great way for you to get feedback (positive or negative) and work out the kinks for next time.

Tip #4 – Come Prepared
Being prepared is a huge part of your presentation success. Know what your talking about so you are not just reading from your notes. Have your business cards available so the participants can follow-up with you later (possibly become clients of yours). Make a simple handout and pass it out at the end so you don’t end up with distracted participants. Know what setting is available for your presentation too. Do you have the ability to run a PowerPoint and if so, do you bring the hook-ups and laptop? Will there be tables for the audience or just chairs (important if doing writing activities)? Get as much information as you can beforehand so you are ready to go the day of. Being prepared will help you to eliminate unnecessary stress and be able to deliver an effective presentation that will engage your audience.

Tip #5 – Have Fun & Just Be You
This conference was such an awesome experience for me. I am so passionate about what I do and teach that after a presentation, I usually feel energized and invigorated. With practicing a lot over the years in different settings, I am now really comfortable public speaking and answering on-the-spot questions. I typically get at least a few attendees come up to me after with positive comments; however, I was totally blown away by the positive response at this conference. I had so many women come up to me throughout the rest of the day to introduce me to their friends, comment on the information, and speak to my enthusiasm and positive energy for the topic. It really is a crazy feeling to have people tell you that you are an inspiration to them. As a dietitian, I try to help others find a passion for nutrition and healthy eating; however, some days are just really difficult inspiring change. To know that I inspired a group of women in just 45-minutes was just so awesome (for lack of a better word).

So, if you are presenting in any type of setting, just remember that your enthusiasm and your passion can inspire others to make a change. Put your own spin on things and just relate to your crowd in any way that you can. The more you can connect the better the experience is for everyone.

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