Last But Not Least: How To Speak Last At A Conference

We all know what it’s like to attend a conference. At the start of the day you’re full of enthusiasm and passion, excited for all the great stuff you’re about to learn. But after seven hours or so of listening to lecturers and speeches on broadly the same topic, pretty much everyone in the room is drained of energy and ready to go home.

So, what should you do if you’re due to speak at a conference only to find out that you’ll be speaking last? It might not sound ideal but look on the bright side: if this was a music festival, you would be the headliner! Now here are some practical tips to help you out if you’re set to be the final speaker of the day.

Don’t pitch

After a long day at a conference, the last thing a tired audience needs to hear is a thinly-veiled sales pitch for your product or services. They will just turn off and you might as well pitch to an empty room. Allow your product and services to come up naturally as a part of the presentation rather than making it an integral part of what you’re talking about.

Make use of technology

You need to find a way for your talk to stand out and engage with people who have already listened to a lot of different ideas. To stick in the memory of your audience it can be a great idea to implement a form of technology like an audience response system (ARS). An ARS can allow you to easily increase audience participation in your talk and provide a reason for people to keep listening. Perhaps take a survey and explain that you’ll reveal the results at the end of your talk. This gives a reason for the audience to stay invested in what you’re saying.

Don’t worry about the sessions that have come before

One distinct disadvantage of going last is that the fact that you get to see all the other speakers who have come before you. There can be a natural inclination to compare yourself to what other people are doing and this might lead to you losing confidence in your own talk. This important thing here is focus on your own presentation and making it as good as it can be. Others will have their presenting style and topics they have knowledge on – just focus on your own and you will be fine.

Be yourself

It might be tempting to think that you should change your presenting style in order to try to engage with the audience. If you’re not naturally an energetic presenter, it will do you no favours to try to change the way you work to get people interested, in fact it will have the opposite effect. Stick to what you’re good at and be yourself during the presentation.