The Power of Words: How to engage your audience when presenting at a Conference

Have you heard people say, good speakers are born, not made? Well, I am here to tell you that it is a myth. No one is born a good speaker – you develop certain skill sets that make you a good speaker and you further hone those skills with experience. You were not born with a stellar command of your language, you developed it over time. Similarly, you become an inspiring speaker over a period. Good public speaking skills will only boost your confidence, make you more eloquent and ultimately help you advance in your career.

Can you remember an instance when you tried to wriggle yourself out of a situation, because you were nominated to present on behalf of your team and you preferred to be a spectator and let some other team member enjoy the limelight, only because you have stage fright? To you, I say, anyone can become a public speaker. There is no ONE essential requirement to be an exceptional speaker. It is a blend of many skill sets – inherent and acquired.

Content is king

You need to know everything about your content, and when I say everything, I mean E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are fumbling for answers because you didn’t think your audience would ask questions about it. A humble request, please don’t be one of those who have someone else create their presentation for them and then deliver it in a robotic manner, because that will not get you anywhere. When you are on stage, you need to develop a rapport with your audience; they should be clued in to your presentation and not lose interest midway.

Remember to keep your audience engaged. Use analogies and metaphors. Deliver insightful content in a crisp manner – a combination of textual and visual content is a more persuasive method than wholly verbal presentations. The power of visual content in a presentation is undeniable. I have seen speakers present to an audience of 300 or more in a room and not lose their audience interest even once. This brings me to the second most important requirement, voice modulation.

It is not what you say, but how you say it

The importance of pitch and tone while communicating is crucial. Using an aggressive tone can give an altogether different impression. Have you ever been in a situation when you were in a discussion with friends/ colleagues and you have miffed them with your point of view. More often than not, people are receptive to different ideas and perceptions, but it is the tone of voice that makes the difference. Use your voice to create an impact. Finding the right tone, volume and tempo are crucial factors in delivering a powerful speech/ presentation. A monotone pitch would indicate that you are quite unenthusiastic. Have a clear voice. Find the right timing to pause between sentences and most importantly modulate your tone depending on the text you are presenting. Once you have mastered this as well, the next crucial factor that you need to bear in mind is non-verbal communication.

Passion changes everything

All those public speakers who are popular and considered the best are the ones who engage with their audiences. To be able to connect with your audiences isn’t as difficult as you think it to be. The key is to be passionate about your topic. Speakers are also known to use hand gestures in enhancing presentations – the general rule is that your confidence is directly proportional to the way your ‘hands talk’ as you present. Excitement and passion are infectious. Your confidence and positive energy will also reflect in your body language; walk across the stage and don’t be limited to standing in one spot. Let your audience feel the vibe.

If you want to enter the niche category of becoming a powerful orator and an inspiring speaker, there is one thing you need to do. Practice. Practice. Practice. You can never be over prepared. Invest in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will.

Remember, good speakers are made and not born! All the great speakers were bad speakers at first. Les Brown once said, ‘You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great’, so what are you waiting for – get going! ­

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

Step up to stand out – Why you need to speak at conferences?

Do you deal with rapid heartbeat and break into cold sweat at thought of having to speak at a public platform? If yes, then you are one of the many that experience speech anxiety. Based on research and articles, it is understood that people’s number one fear is supposed to public speaking, second is death? If you are one of those who would rather die than address a crowd, you sure are losing out on building your own personal brand. Yes, I know, you would rather face death than engage in public speaking. But hold on for a second. Take a deep breath. Hear me out on why it is so important and why you must consider it.

I am sure you won’t disagree with me when I say it is only when you are seen and heard that you are recognized. Steve Jobs. Guy Kawasaki. Jack Ma. Oprah Winfrey. Mark Zuckerberg. Jack Welch. As you read these names, I am certain you were also able to instantly recall the brands that they are synonymous with. The only reason you had no difficulty in associating the name against their respective brands is because these renowned personalities are iconic figures that are a brand name by themselves. They have not only dedicated their lives in creating a product/brand that is admired, but have also become a household name. Had they been apprehensive about communicating with the large audiences, they wouldn’t have been recognized as worldwide influencers. That’s a given. And these are just a few top honchos whose names I have mentioned.

While you innovate, and introduce the most cutting-edge products, it is important to spread the word out. Let your peers and stakeholders know. Always remember, YOU are your company’s strongest brand ambassador. No one else will be as vehement and vocal in advocating your brand. Be part of trade shows, conferences – network and expand your business connections, exhibit your solutions but more importantly, take the stage to educate the audience on your company’s offerings, USPs etc. The opportunity to address a gathering doesn’t come very often, but when it does, you need to make sure it makes a significant difference to your business.

As a speaker, you stand to gain maximum exposure, more than any other attendee at a conference. The innumerable networking opportunities are extremely beneficial to your business. Add to that the opportunity to interact with the audience at such forums to get feedback on your presentation/ case study that can lead to stimulating discussions and help bring in a fresh perspective.

The importance of delivering an impactful presentation doesn’t solely lie in the content, it is also the delivery that holds the deciding factor in being a good speaker. The content will be effective only if your delivery is powerful and engaging. The idea is to capture the audience attention and not let it waver. As you would know, enthusiasm is infectious, so express your enthusiasm to deliver a compelling presentation and make a sizeable impact on the audience.

The aim is to be eventually recognized as an industry expert – you need to speak from a position of knowledge. Knowledge is power. By sharing your knowledge and perspective to a diverse audience, you lay the foundation of being regarded as a thought leader. To keep your audience engaged, you must be mindful not to make a sales pitch. Instead, a case study or a product reference in your business presentation with insights about industry trends will pique their interest. Post the speaking sessions, participating in engaging discussion with the audience, and sharing more insights that will help them in their business operations, is the next important step in developing your reputation for being the role model/go-to-person for information pertaining to industry trends.

Of course, you don’t become an expert overnight. But once you set the ball rolling and are seen delivering compelling speeches that add value, you will be invited to be part of more conferences. The more often you speak, and address different audiences across regions, you are building your personal brand. Over a period, you will gain the recognition and reap the rewards that come from becoming an outstanding speaker.

To reinforce this, you need to ramp up your PR/visibility quotient – a topic that I’ll leave for another day! For now, all you need to remember is, developing your personal brand goes hand in hand with expanding your company’s presence too.

Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel – Ralph Waldo Emerson

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

Key factors to consider when choosing to attend a conference

As I start writing, am thinking of the adage that holds true, ‘To reach a goal you have never before attained, you must do things you have never before done.’ With this, let me wish you success and the experience to enjoy new things this year. I am quite positive that with a comprehensive list of things that you want to accomplish, you are ready to take on the year. While we resolve to do different things, we need the resolve to do things differently. I will let that statement sink in for a moment.

Well then, with that thought let me continue. Did you know that one of the most popular resolutions made in 2017 (according to survey by CareerBuilder) include learning something new by attending more seminars or courses etc? This brings me to the crux of this conversation on how do you decide which is the right conference/ summit/ seminar to attend. What is that ONE key deciding factor, you may ask? Let me tell you, there isn’t one, it is a mix of a few critical points that you need to bear in mind.

You should never go to a meeting or make a telephone call without a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve – Steve Jobs

With any task, you want to accomplish in life – be it personal or professional, it is important for you to set clear goals. If you don’t list out your objective of attending a conference, your presence at the event will be futile. MICE industry is on a high growth trajectory1 with an overwhelming number of conferences varying in nature organized month after month. It is solely your discretion which one you choose to attend and which one to give a miss. It’s suffice to say ask as many as possible questions to the organizers. Mostly beginners tend to hold back asking any question to avoid looking foolish. To you I say, no question is a silly question and be sure to clear any doubts that you may have. You will be surprised that people are happy to answer your questions to help you make a decision.

You need to decide on what exactly you want to gain by attending a conference – enhancing your brand awareness, getting exposure to new trends and skills or connecting with industry peers? Once this is done, the next step is to research and choose amongst the many conferences being held and narrow down your choices to determine the right fit for you.

The second most important point for you to remember is the budget. While having said that, please remember that expense doesn’t always equal quality. This brings me to my next point, that is location. It is a smart decision to attend events based locally. If you are willing to travel intercity to attend the summit, you would need to factor in the travel and accommodation costs, which will increase the budget by a significant degree.

Now that you have shortlisted few summits/ events to attend, you must carefully weigh the pros and cons to determine the quality of the event – has it been running for many years now? How well-established is it? Events that are renowned have a certain credibility attached to their name. That is not to say, the inaugural events can be skipped. Find out information on the organizers, go through past testimonials or ask past attendees for feedback. To ascertain what the event has to offer and if it is worth your money and time, request for a post-show report of the previous edition of the event. You will be well-equipped with all the information – the various topics covered under the conference agenda and quality of the speakers, whether the speakers are regionally renowned or internationally based, their background, expertise and if this matches with your line of work. Aside from this, it is crucial to know the attendee profiles visiting to find out whether the target audience is relevant for you to expand your business connections and increase your brand visibility.

Always keep in mind your objective while you evaluate an event that is of interest to you. At the end of it all, most importantly you should be able prove to your management that your connections made and skills you learnt has outweighed the expenditure incurred.

To new beginnings.

1 Conferences and trade shows are predicted to be the largest events in nearly every region, with per event attendee increase ranging from 209 in Asia to 455 in North America (Source – 2016 Global Meetings and Events Forecast)

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

Why attending Conferences could be beneficial for you and your business?

If I were to ask, what is the fastest way to build connections, I am confident of getting the reply – Facebook or LinkedIn even. While it certainly may be an easy way to get connections, it certainly is not a foolproof way of developing a connection. Don’t get me wrong, I am an advocate of these new age communication tools that have simplified business and help in getting to touch with the right person. You may call me old school, but I feel nothing can replace a one-on-one interaction, when you exchange business cards and information that goes beyond one meeting – it is irreplaceable. Such opportunities of course do not present themselves every other day. Nonetheless, when it does, we should be prepared to make the most of the opportunity. While a thought about attending a conference may seem mundane, the experience sure isn’t. If you haven’t participated in a conference yet, you are missing out on the great new ways to learn, interact with your industry peers, build contacts amongst your network and hone your skill.

Your network creates your networth

How often have you heard someone tell you, it is all about networking?! Networking is truly the name of the game. Enough cannot be said about the importance of networking, be it for our personal gain or in the business world. To many, the idea of networking is restricted to connecting with friends over the many social media platforms available at our disposable. Simply put, there is so much more than the digital platforms. Let us get away from the digital mediums, connect on a personal level and build contacts that may prove to be of immense help in the future.

Conferences present just the opportunity. Start a conversation. Connect. Meet new people. Be part of an engaging discussion. Build connections that go a long way. It is unanimously agreed upon that the most obvious and biggest benefit of attending conferences is networking and building connections with industry peers.

Every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow

When you network with your peers there is an incredible amount of information to be shared and learnt as well. Depending on the industry you are working in, choose to attend a conference that provides an eclectic mix of speakers presenting on topics that are relevant to you. By participating in a conference, you expand your knowledge base, gain fresh perspective on your industry trends and insightful details from global and regional experts. Furthermore, depending on the type of conference you are attending, you get to experience a hands-on demonstration of cutting-edge technological solutions changing the face of the industry.

Knowledge has no value unless you use and share it

While you take time away from your business or career to participate in a conference that presents invaluable learning and growth opportunities, make sure to share your experiences with others too. The true value of a conference comes from sharing your experiences with your colleagues who didn’t attend. Given that everyone is keen to learn and know what they missed out on, you can highlight the key takeaways from the sessions you attended and interactions you had with influencers and other peers with a larger audience by way of a blog.

At the end of it all, when you get back to office, you are brimming with new ideas and approaches. You are better equipped to implement all that you learnt in your business or career. At the risk of repeating myself, I’d like to reiterate that there is no substitute for being part of a conference that offers myriad opportunities of growth. Break out of your comfort zone and enjoy the unique convergence of learning, networking and knowledge-sharing that a conference offers.

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn