Delivering a Compelling Keynote Presentation Without Slides: Tips and Tricks

In this episode of Office Hours, I discussed how do you give a keynote presentation without slides.

As a keynote speaker at the Carnegie Conference for higher education in Orlando, I had the opportunity to share my expertise on digital marketing and its impact on driving enrollments. Despite a late arrival and little rest, I arrived early to ensure a seamless setup with the AV team. My presentation, “Mastering Digital Marketing for Increased Enrollments,” aimed at imparting valuable insights and tips to the audience.

Keynote presentation without slides

Overcoming Nervousness and Embracing the Power of Connection

If you haven’t done much large-stage speaking, this is when you might get chills and experience nervousness. You might think, “It’s just an hour before I go on stage. I’m feeling nervous. Are my slides good?” Wearing a microphone with a clip can unnerve many people, especially women. Lee, the speaker before me, was someone I had met before. I helped him by taking pictures and videos and giving him some tips. It’s always great to help other speakers, as they might help you in return. Lee even recorded my session for me.

Additionally, monitoring the conference hashtag on social media can help you stay informed about the conference proceedings and engage with other attendees. For example, you can like and re-tweet posts by speakers and attendees, and even participate in the conversation by adding your comments. By staying engaged with the conference proceedings and participants, you can reduce nerves or pressure and create a sense of familiarity and comfort.

The fear of public speaking comes from not knowing what’s going to happen. But if you know the agenda, the hotel, the other speakers, and the room layout, and if the person introducing you know your bio, it reduces any pressure or nervousness you might have.

You don’t want the person introducing you to just read from a sheet. You want them to say it as if they’re your friend, even if you haven’t met before. I had already engaged with these people on the airplane before getting there.

Maximizing Your Impact Through Engagement and Networking

After I spoke, many people came up to take pictures and ask questions. This is where you get leads if you’re an agency. This is the moment to be present and not go to the washroom, take phone calls, or open your laptop. Stand off to the side, and people will come up to you. That’s when you get deals and invitations to speak at their conferences.

While there, I reconnected with Cheryl, someone I hadn’t seen in 10 years, who referred me to the conference. We used to work together 26 years ago at Travelocity and Yahoo. I also took pictures and videos of other speakers.

Going to these conferences is not just about speaking. A lot of people don’t understand that. It’s about networking with other conference organizers and speakers. The more connected you are, the more speaking opportunities you’ll get.

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Leveraging Video and Live Demonstrations for Maximum Impact

Instead of taking a selfie on stage like others, I prefer to post a one-minute video on Twitter. This conference was for higher education and aimed at driving enrollment. The attendees were admissions counselors, marketing departments, alumni, and more. They were trying to attract students of all ages, including single moms and those looking for postgraduate degrees.

During the conference, I demonstrated a live video on dormitories and how they’ve evolved from crappy 27 years ago to 5-star luxury.

I ran this video through the descript to show people how it works. I also demonstrated a Facebook Live campaign and posted the stats live.

Maximizing Networking Opportunities: The Secret to a Successful Conference Experience

Being a successful keynote speaker is not just about delivering a captivating presentation on stage. It’s about utilizing the conference to network and build relationships with other attendees, speakers, and the AV crew. A great way to show appreciation for other attendees is by posting their photos on your Facebook cover photo, which can generate engagement and attract other industry experts. 

Engaging Your Audience from the Start: Maximizing Your Introduction Moment

The Art of Engaging Your Audience with an Impactful Introduction

  • Start by pausing and acknowledging the audience. 
  • Open with a story that is relevant and engaging to your audience. 
  • Use an impactful statement, a captivating story, or a surprising fact to grab the audience’s attention. 
  • Connect your story to your audience by making it relevant to their experience. 
  • Use personal stories to capture the audience’s attention and set the tone for your talk.
  • Use the story to connect with the audience and establish credibility.

Avoiding Common Introduction Mistakes

  • Avoid breaking the silence with weak statements like “Thank you for having me” or “This is my first time speaking”.
  • Don’t start off by saying, “Well, you know, I know I’m the last one here before lunch, so I’ll try to make this fast,” or “I’ve never spoken at this conference before. Thank you so much for having me.” 
  • Don’t do anything that diminishes yourself or says “Thank you” or “Is my mic working? Can you guys hear me, okay?”

Building Connections at University

My time at SMU provided me with invaluable networking opportunities and mentors, such as the CEO of American Airlines. Through this connection, I was able to get my first job. I learned about agencies and other areas, and the university opened up many opportunities for me. However, I had to put in the effort to take advantage of them. My classmate Dr. Karen Freeburg is a great example of this, as she is now at the University of Louisville. Our friendship was built on the connections we made at the university. This experience taught me that university is not just about the classes or the buildings but about the people.

Creating Content and Ads

How to Repurpose Content and Use AI to Create Engaging Videos?

Most university ads feature a smiling girl under a tree, but that doesn’t tell the full story. To really engage your audience, you must show the real student experience – the classrooms, the people, and the activities. To do so, you can repurpose content through long-form videos, podcasts, interviews, and guest lectures. Additionally, you can use AI tools to create one-minute videos. I demonstrated this live with a rap I created about chiropractors in Florida and showed the audience how to document the process using Google.

Crafting an Engaging Ending to Your Presentation

I emphasized that Google values the best user experience and that AI tools can be used as a form of assistance. I showed how anyone, especially students, can collect, process, and publish content for a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional videographer. I shared my personal story of how attending college opened doors for me. 

I concluded my presentation by introducing the Content Factory, a four-step process to help students and universities tell their stories and attract potential college applicants. I encouraged the audience to ask questions and engage in a dialogue. 

In the end, you need to build up the volume and craft a persuasive conclusion. If you stack together a few powerful statements and finish with a powerful “thank you,” you’re more likely to receive a standing ovation. 

If you just end with “thank you, questions?” you’ve missed out on the opportunity to make an impact.

Mastering the Art of Dynamic Speaking: How to Avoid Monotony and Engage Your Audience

As a speaker, it’s easy to get caught up in fear of not remembering your words or looking foolish on stage. However, these concerns shouldn’t overshadow the importance of dynamic delivery. A monotone speaker can quickly lose their audience’s attention, sounding like they’re asking a question even when they’re not. 

To keep your audience engaged, it’s crucial to modulate your tone, pace, and volume and to vary your delivery with pauses, humor, and energy. Doing so will captivate your audience and keep them interested in your message.

Unlocking Your Potential: Tips and Techniques for Effective Public Speaking

As individuals, we all possess the capability to become professional speakers. The key lies in honing certain techniques to enhance our delivery and engage with our audience. Despite the common belief that some people are naturally gifted speakers, the reality is that effective public speaking requires preparation and effort. 

Many speakers are perceived as effortless and spontaneous, but their success is the result of years of practice and refinement. Don’t be discouraged by the notion that public speaking comes easily to some and not others – with dedication and a willingness to learn, anyone can become a dynamic speaker.

Leveraging Speaking Success: Navigating the World of Professional Keynote Speaking

As a consistently top-rated speaker across conferences in digital marketing, social media, and higher education, I command a speaker fee of $7,500 plus travel expenses. My peers have advised me to raise my fee to $20,000, while others in the industry charge as much as $50,000 per appearance. Success in keynote speaking often requires publishing a book, as being a two or three year-old bestseller is a marker of relevancy.

However, reaching this level of success also means limiting your conference appearances, networking with influential individuals, and maintaining a high media presence. Despite the challenges, I have found success at my current fee, which even covers luxurious stays like my current one in Disney World, including an hour-long visit to Epcot Center tonight after 30 years.

Sharing Expertise: A Guide to Public Speaking in Digital Marketing

As seasoned professionals in digital marketing, concepts that seem straightforward to us can be surprising and innovative to others. As part of a community that understands technology and its intricacies, sharing our knowledge and insights is important. The principle of “learn, do, teach” is a valuable one, as it highlights the importance of demonstrating our expertise before imparting it to others.

Maximizing Lead Generation from Conferences: A Guide for Speakers

For those new to public speaking, I encourage you to start small and build up your confidence. Whether you’re discussing the latest trends in digital marketing or explaining the complexities of viruses and security, your audience will appreciate your insights and expertise.

As a successful speaker, you have the potential to generate a significant amount of leads for your business through your speaking engagements. Here are some tips to help you make the most of these opportunities:

1.    Bring your book and make it a key part of your bio. Mentioning your book during your speaking engagements will help increase your lead generation.

2.    Offer to sign copies of your book for attendees. This not only personalizes the experience, but also serves as a reminder of your expertise.

3.    Be prepared to interact with potential clients. Set up a table outside the main entrance, staffed by a team member, to answer questions and hand out copies of your book.

4.    Utilize your team. Bring additional team members with you to conferences to help handle the load and maximize the number of quality leads you generate.

5.    Be available and engaged. Make sure your team is ready and available to answer questions and interact with attendees after your speaking engagement.

Following these tips can increase your lead generation from conferences and grow your business through speaking engagements.

What do you think?

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.