How to Get the Most Out of a Conference?

How Do You Give a Good Workshop?

Why an Entrepreneur needs to learn both?

Have you attended workshops, gone home, back to work and everything you learned was forgotten.

  • Did you meet new people but never saw or talked to them again?
  • Did you host a workshop and things did not go smoothly?
  • Did you spend all this energy to present and then “crickets”, no one asked for your services? Did you even offer next steps?

We will discuss how to get the most out of a conference. This article is devoted to both the attendees of a conference but also to the presenter. As a presenter we also need to step away from the podium and be an attendee and we will get more networking than just from being at the front of the room.

If you have never been a presenter, it’s time to think about being one. It will help build your authority in your business industry. So, no matter where you are in your business journey, this article is for you.

You go to industry conferences. You pay huge dollars for training conferences. You go to networking events. But when it’s over, how do you synthesize it? What do you do with the information? What about the people you met? And most importantly, apply it to your business?

Since this article is written for both the presenter and attendee, I will focus on the presenter first. Remember, even if you have not presented yet, this is a good time to learn for future reference. You can do it. My tips will make you have a great presentation. It’s the best way for people to learn about you and your business.

Preparation Is Everything

First create an outline.  Decide what topic you want to share.

What are you an expert on?

What are some knowledge and tools you can pass on that will help people with their business or quality of life?

Make sure there is a relationship between what you teach and the product you sell. That way you will have the right audience for your presentation, your target market.

Make sure you have a call to action at the end.

What Goes into Your Presentation? 

Create a short description and then pick a title that tells what you are speaking on. When people have tons of choices a cutesy title might be nice but it should clearly describe your topic and its relevancy to them. These two are what people will see when they are deciding whether to attend your workshop. so make it enticing and a “not to be missed” topic. 

Then decide on the content.

Tell your audience right up front about the problem they may be facing that your presentation will address and offer solutions.

Then a bit about you and why they should listen to you.

Next up deliver training.

Conclude with next steps and if appropriate Call to Action of how you can help (soft sell). I often give free gifts ie resources to help them. That helps them develop the knowledge or tools I shared. Also reinforces trust and value of working with me.

A lot depends on how much time you have for your workshop, but if possible, it is fun to give a demo. Awesome. Or perhaps ask people to do an exercise.

If you are doing a PowerPoint, here are some tips. Make slides easy to see. Lots of graphics to engage them. Use fun and descriptive graphics. After all, photos say a 1000 words.

Use minimum text for each slide and in big and easy to read font. Nothing is worse than a bunch of text no one can see at the back of the room.

Have the PPT version to share on a screen. But always good to have a PDF version as backup. That helped me when I had to use a backup computer.

First goal of being a presenter: visibility, building authority and trust. How do you turn your audience into future potential clients or referral agents? What do you need to be a great Presenter?

Are You a Good Presenter?

If standing up in front of a room is easy for you, enough said. But if you hate it, you will need to practice a few times till you feel confident. If you know your topic you can’t get lost. Your passion will come through. Don’t memorize it. Just know exactly what you want to start off with and away you go.

Often starting right into a story that intrigues your audience will help. Those first few minutes will determine if they want to hear more from you. Begin with a story or let them know right up front what the problem is and how you will have an answer so they will want to stay. Their life depends on it. (well at least part).

Myth: You don’t need to be an awesome speaker. Just be authentic – speak with your passion and from your heart. These are people who need what you offer. Keep that in mind.

Tip: Many speakers who are introverts, bounce into a room to give themselves an adrenalin rush. You can do the same without the bounce. Just internally say to yourself, “I can, I will. I am awesome.” Pump yourself up.

Tools for Your Workshop

  • A good working computer with power cable.
  • PPT Presentation on your computer desktop or on USB stick (so you are not reliant on WIFI)
  • HTML cable to plug into the TV or projector. 
  • A remote wireless PowerPoint presenter (can step away from computer and move around the room)
  • Hard copy materials to handout if appropriate to your presentation.
  • Bottle of water and hard candies – keep yourself hydrated. Candies keep you from getting cotton mouth.  
  • Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides

What to Wear?

Funny, for all the years I have been a speaker, I always dressed in business attire. But things have changed. Dress for the audience. I have been wearing much more casual clothing than I used too. Boots and jeans are more my style today. Though I still wear a dress or nice pants and blouse for more formal business events. But I still make sure makeup is right and hair is neat. So, gage your audience. I know some ladies like to wear tight, short, sleeveless dresses. But call me old fashion, but I think it is a distraction. But hey, who am I to criticize.

Advertising Your Session

Create a flyer or postcard and/or sticker identifying your presentation and date. We use Canva to create ours. Then print using Vistaprint. In my graphic (see below) you will see a my bright sticker and postcard and business card. I used a QR code to help people find the landing page to get all of my goodies.

Create a landing page: Share your bio, describe your presentation and where they can download your PowerPoint slides and links to your goodies. We use our email marketing program’s landing pages. But if you have a WordPress website, you can create one there. Hint: take the link and create a customized bit.ley link at https://bitly.com.

Create a Social Media Strategy: 4 weeks out from the presentation. I would suggest both organic and some paid. 2 weeks in advance is the minimum suggested time frame for a paid ad on Facebook. Takes a couple of days for Facebook to optimize your post audience.

Follow-up Process: Have people sign up for your email list during your event. If you have a gift that will make it easier such as the PowerPoint slides and some free tools, a quiz, a pdf, etc.

Once the event has passed you should create a strategy to reach these people. Otherwise they will forget you. For those that signed up, you could send a series of emails making sure they received value from your event. Did they apply the knowledge? Do they have questions you can help with?

I just received an awesome text from one of my attendees. He said, “I was just telling someone about GEW and mentioned how your presentation helped me communicate my ideal customer better and how that’s got me connected to some potential new clients.”

Connect on LinkedIn: great idea to connect with audience on LinkedIn. If you have the attendee list (with any that have a LinkedIn profile) and send them a personal message.

Could you offer a follow-up coffee gathering, create a meetup, webinar, or workshop? Nurturing your connections will lead to new sales down the road.

Then take a break. Relax for a couple of days and get your energy back.

Listener Tips

Plan a strategy before you attend your next conference.

If you have attended a conference with several sessions, there should be two objectives for you:
#1 Take notes of ideas you learned that are applicable to your business. Find time to digest what you learned and apply it.
#2 Develop new contacts and create networking follow-up.

Let’s break it down.

I cannot tell a lie, some of the following ideas came from a Workshop I attended at #GEWKC called “Post-GEW Processing: Ideas, Connections and Goals….Oh MY! Lead by Jennifer White of Clearing for Launch. She is a clarity coach. Her tag line is “GET Clear, GET Confident, Get Conquering”. Jen will clear your path of whatever obstacles are standing in your way to launch your business or even personal life. Sometimes even our personal life gets in the way of our business success. You can find her at: https://clearingforlaunch.com.

I give Jen credit for not only adding to some of my listener tips, but actually, her workshop inspired me to write this blog post.

Bring a fresh new notebook. Date and put time for each session and note the speaker and their contact information. (Jen actually gave us a notebook to take home with us).

After each session, leave a couple of blank pages for extra notes to be added later.

Bring a couple of pens with different colors – blue, black, red, green. Assign these colors for what is important for you. That will help portions of your notes stand out for the “lightbulb” moments and when you review your notes afterwards. Or a different color for each workshop. If you take photos of the PowerPoints, go retrieve them and add content to your notes.

Workshop Follow-up Strategy

Go through your notes for each session. Write down at least 1 thing you learned from each session that you can implement in your business.

 Did you learn anything new that inspired you?

 Put a price tag on what you got out of each session. How much value did you get that will help you grow your business?

If you were inspired by the speaker, reach out to them through LinkedIn, or send them an email or text and show appreciation for their workshop. Everyone loves praise. Ask yourself “could you use their services?” 

Networking Strategies

 Business Cards: What do you do with those business cards you collected?

First of all, bring plenty of cards with you. OMG, many times I have asked people for their cards and they either said “I don’t have one or left them at home or office.” Really!! You came to a conference without the ability to network. Sorry, I don’t mean personally you. I am sure you brought cards, but many people I meet do not. If you want people to remember you, contact you, how can you not easily reach for one or several to give out. Keep a little wallet or pouch just for the cards you bring. I often put them in the back of a name tag holder.

Another tip: when someone does give you their card, look at it. Don’t just stash it in your pocket. It shows disrespect. Like you don’t care. If you look at it, you can make a comment to them about their card. It can stir the conversation. Plus, when you’re reviewing them at the end of the day, you will remember who gave you which. Visually remember face to card.

By the way, I would take a fresh look at your own cards. Does your business card say who you are and what you do? If it doesn’t you may want to redesign it. It’s cheap enough to buy new ones. Even I am going to redesign my cards. I found out that having your up to date photo on your card is a huge benefit. People will remember you better. So, photos and a tag line are important for your business card.

What the heck to do with those cards?

Processing the Cards

If you collected cards, enter the data into your CRM (customer relationship management system) or in an excel spreadsheet.  Some programs have mobile apps that will scan the card for you. Make a note of when at the event you met them and why. When should you reach out?  That will help you when you contact them. Determine which ones could be potential customers and which ones would be good networking partners. Create emails, messages or phone call scripts for those.

Tips from Jennifer’s presentation at #GEWKC. As you go through your cards make a note of the following:

  • What do they do that intrigues you?
  • What about them did you dislike (chuck those or give to someone else)?
  • What are they passionate about?
  • What workshop were you in together?
  • Why do you want to spend more time with them?
  • How did they make you feel?
  • Who do you know in common?
  • Who would you like to connect them too?
  • How can you help them?
  • If you promised them something, DO IT RIGHT AWAY. KEEP YOUR PROMISES.

What if you didn’t follow-up right away? You stashed the cards on a shelf and forgot about them. Here it is 3 months after you attended the event, what do you do now. Surely everyone will have forgotten you. Besides beating yourself up for procrastinating and saying “next time I will do better” follow-up now!!!!. It’s never too late. Carve out a weekend and get it done.  You can always say, “hey life got in the way, but I didn’t forget you.” Anyone would appreciate it, just like you would.

Connect with Everyone on LinkedIn

My sister Gillian makes a habit of linking in with speakers before she attends the conference. How brilliant is that. When she attends their session, sometimes they remember her. They are friends before she meets them.

But if you are like me and forget to do that, once the conference is over, go ahead and ask for the connection. If you have under 500 connections, getting above that threshold is helpful for LinkedIn to share your posts. You have more authority. Secondly, you never know when that new connection might prove profitable in new business or a referral. If you post videos on your LinkedIn, your connections connections and even sometimes their connections will see your video. That in itself is a great reason.

You can send someone a message to connect with you that you met at XYZ conference. Ask what they liked best. If you want to build a relationship with some of the people you met, this is a great way to start.

Also, I would suggest checking your LinkedIn newsfeed daily just like Facebook. You will find out what those new connections are up too. Make a comment and start building those relationships. Eventually those could become friends, clients or fabulous referrals.

Hint for the next conference you attend: Use your phone to build connections.

Make Sure You Have the LinkedIn App on Your Mobile Phone

Two ways to connect with someone instead of or in addition to getting their business card:

#1 Use your scan code. Yes, LinkedIn has a scan code.

Here are the steps:

Ask your new friend, to go to their LinkedIn profile on their phone. Go to your profile as well. See at the top of the page there is a symbol with three boxes and an X.

LinkedIn Profile

Touch that with your finger. Next screen says LinkedIn code. You have a choice now with someone. You can scan their code, or they can scan your code. Immediately you will be connected. Once you get home you can send a follow-up message to deepen the new connection. Test it yourself right now with my QR code.

 

#2 Have a LinkedIn party while at the happy hour. We did. Everyone loved it. Makes new friends.

Ask everyone with you to open their LinkedIn app on their mobile. At the bottom of the screen you will see an icon of two people (see graphic below). Click that. That icon is your connections icon. Once you tap it, you will be directed to another screen. On this screen you will be offered to add contacts, scan QR code (another way) or Find nearby. It is probably OFF (see graphics below). Turn it on and everyone near you that has a LinkedIn profile will show up as a potential connection. Connect right there.

When you get home or the next morning send a message about your connections and build your relationships from there.  Think about all the people you chat with at a conference and never see them again. With this option, never again does that have to happen.

Summarizing. You made the time out of from work to attend. Make it work for you. Create an accountability around doing your follow-up. Assign 30 minutes a day to reviewing your notes and what you want to do with the information and the people you met.

  • Review your notes.
  • Determine where to implement those ideas.
  • Update business cards to your CRM.
  • Make a list of people you want to contact and then do that.
  • LinkedIn with as many people as you can that you met.
  • Then create a video and post on LinkedIn. 

If you want to create videos but you don’t know how, you surely want to check out our blog post on Marketing Your Business with Video.

Conferences have the ability to inspire us, teach us new strategies and make new friends. Happy conference attending. Make the time worthwhile.

If you found this article helpful, please let me know. Check out our website for all of our goodies. No obligation. We want to see you successful.

Our goal is to help small business owners with their online marketing. If you are not sure you have it all in place, we offer a 15-minute consult to help you see what may be missing. 

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com