The methodology I described won’t work well for everyone, and I should make some more things clear:
I don’t create or memorize a script, but I do rely on the slide deck itself to provide an order and narrative to the story I’m telling.
I only present on topics I’ve personally invested time and energy into doing (and thus can feel confident about adding value). I’ll occasionally talk about a topic about which I’m not extremely proficient (e.g. raising venture capital, which I failed at in 2009), but these are rare and include lots of caveats.
I’ve tried some other formats, like an all-whiteboard-drawn presentation and using Prezi (like Martin Macdonald’s brilliant one on the MayDay update) and even, long ago, some hand-made, Flash slide decks. None have worked as well for me personally, though I certainly encourage others to get creative and give it a shot.
I often re-use slides, individual graphics, charts and talking points, but I almost never give the same presentation twice. Although audiences differ, there’s frequently at least some overlap (often other speakers) and the world of web marketing/SEO moves so quickly that it demands fresh content and topics. I’ve also found that I’m best when giving a presentation for the first time – I’m more excited about the material and it shows through in my delivery.
I set a goal of being in the top 3-5 presentations as rated by the audience at any given event. Someday, I hope to improve that goal to #1, but currently, . I’m religious about asking organizers for my scores and any written feedback to help improve. To date, nearly every time I present, there are a small handful of comments asking for more basic, beginner-level content and a slightly smaller handful who request more advanced material. Someday, I hope to find a balance, though I suspect this will always be challenging.
I have several verbal disfluencies that frustrate me and that I intend to work on diligently this year. As I recently tweeted, I’m going to look into a professional coach / trainer to assist (recommendations are welcome!).
Hopefully, you can put this methodology (or portions of it) to good use and crank out some awesome presentations of your own!
p.s. If you want to see some of the best in action, join me (and the Distilled team) in London on March 18th and/or New Orleans on March 28th for the first ever Link Building Conference. I expect it to be phenomenal.
p.p.s. One important note (from my personal experiences) – when giving presentations in the US/Canada, Q+A is often a big part of the event and very important to attendees. In the UK, Australia, New Zealand + Germany, it’s slightly lower. In other countries Q+A can be very, very dead, (even if private Q+A after the session is very lively) so make sure to plan accordingly.