When you step off the stage and let out that big sigh of relief now that your session is done – take a deep breath because the next phase of your speaking responsibilities have just kicked in.
Here is a high-level list of what you need to do following your presentation (I’ll cover some of those in more detail in future tips):
- Hang out for questions: Nothing is more annoying to audience members than having the speaker walk off stage and then race to another session, their hotel room or the airport. Meeting people following your session is where business gets done, business cards exchanged and invitations extended for future speaking opportunities. Don’t disappear.
- Thank everyone: When you are returning the microphone, thank the A/V person for their help and make sure you’ve grabbed all of your own equipment – USB stick and clicker if you used your own. Thank the person who introduced you and ask them and the organizer for immediate feedback. You may not get survey results, so get as much feedback from the organizer when it is fresh in their mind. Also, reinforce the positive things with them: “Wow, weren’t there a lot of great questions? The room was really packed, were other sessions as full? People really seemed to resonate when I talked about X.” The organizer is multi-tasking, thinking about the lunch buffet, worried about the keynote speaker showing up in time, will they have enough buses for the reception at the art museum, etc. – so use this moment to instill in their mind how successful your session was.
- Hang with interested attendees and influencers: While you may not be a rock star in real life, leverage your time on stage into building your personal brand and relationships at the event. Walk to lunch, coffee break or reception with interested attendees and fellow speakers. Use this time to exchange ideas, business cards and build relationships with business prospects, future employers or other speakers and influencers.
- Reply to Tweets: As soon as you have a few minutes after speaking, check the tweets about your session. Thank people for their kind words, answer any questions and retweet tweets that make key points – not just those that say how great your session was. Follow people who followed you. Tweet additional information such as where they can get a related white paper; if you will be posting your presentation somewhere; an information source that came up in Q&A, etc. Also, while at the event, make sure you tweet other speakers sessions.
- Follow-up quickly with attendees: Several people will likely give you their business card and ask you to send them your presentation. Don’t tell them it will be posted on the organizer’s website. Use Hightail, Dropbox, SlideShare or similar services to host your presentation and email them within 24 hours a link to the presentation. Also, however, send them links to related content they may have expressed interest in and ask what else you can do for them.
- Thank the event organizer: Send a note or email to the event organizers thanking them again for selecting you to speak and how much you appreciated the opportunity. Reaffirm the positives of your session, including any specific feedback you may have received. Ask if/when they will be sending you results from speaker feedback surveys. Provide any constructive criticism that may have made the conference even better for attendees and speakers. And assuming you like the event, plant the seed now that you’d love to speak again at a future event.
- Update/Fix slides: While it is fresh in your mind, update your slides and fix typos or animation builds and things that just didn’t work right. After a recent presentation where I had several slides with stock photos of hamsters, an attendee emailed me telling me that one of the images was actually of a guinea pig, not a hamster. I immediately purchased a new image and fixed it. Maybe a case study example you used didn’t connect, replace it with a better one. You will be sharing the presentation online and elsewhere and likely using it, or sections of the presentation again so make any changes before you forget.
- Debrief: Ask co-workers and others for candid feedback. I once had a co-worker tell me that I said the word “right” more than 70 times in my session. Yes, they actually counted them. Apparently, “right” had become my “um” when pausing. Did you talk to fast? Did you try to cover too much? You should have taken questions while speaking and not just wait until the end? While you might not agree with every bit of feedback, hearing objective comments is one of the only ways you will know how to improve.
- Post the presentation on SlideShare: Make the presentation available on SlideShare so that thousands of people in your target market can see it – not just the 50 or 500 that were in your session at the event. Once posted tweet the link and use the event Twitter handle and hashtag.
- Blog about the session: You just spoked for 50 minutes on a topic you are passionate about. Your slides are your outline for a great follow-up blog post. Reference the session as appropriate and highlight areas you want to stress or that seemed to resonate with the audience. Answer questions in the blog that came up in Q&A and were asked privately. Create additional value and conversation beyond the session itself. Embed the slides into your blog post using SlideShare.
- Record some quick videos: You have your story down, having delivered a great presentation so pick some aspects of the presentation and record a couple of short videos and post on your company’s YouTube channel or Web site.
- Pitch media outlets: Work with your PR team to secure media interviews or byline articles based on the presentation.
- Deliver a Webinar: You’ve put all of that effort into those 60 slides, now is not the time to let them gather dust on your hard drive.
- Submit more speaker proposals: If your session went really well, then leverage those slides and effort into multiple speaking opportunities. The best public speakers who are out on the circuit promoting a book or concept, leverage the same topic and slides over and over. This approach is not just about leverage, but the more you deliver the same presentation the better it gets – creating a better experience for the audience.
What have I missed? What is on your list of things to do after you’ve delivered a presentation?