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Speaker Tips for Successful CLE Presentations

The State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE seminars division appreciates the time and energy that CLE seminar faculty devotes to sharing their knowledge and expertise by serving as a seminar speaker. The following tips may assist you in presenting an informative and engaging presentation.

Know your audience. Anticipate varying levels of understanding and experience, as well as demographics and potential divergent viewpoints on your topic.

Select your material carefully. Consider what the audience must know, should know, and could know. Compose your presentation content based on time allotted and priorities.

Consider listing three goals for your session. Using the “Rule of Three” allows you to express concepts more completely, emphasize your points, and increase participants’ retention of information. That’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Include personal appeal. Stories, analogies, and metaphors to reinforce key points, maintain interest, and help participants remember your presentation material.

Rehearse your presentation. Practicing out loud will help develop comfort with your material and ways of conveying your points. Prepared speakers exude greater confidence and professionalism. Use slides as prompts – avoid reading them or flipping through them too quickly.

Make a powerful first impression. Plan and practice your opening sentences carefully in order to set the tone for your presentation. Remember that your demeanor, posture, voice, and words all set the stage for how you will be perceived.

Speak with enthusiasm. Display interest in your topic and a passion for your profession. Using inflection and occasional gestures will add energy to your presentation and keep the attention of your audience. Avoid moving away from the podium and microphone as this affects volume.

Invite audience participation. Make eye contact as much as is possible; ask participants to consider how your information may apply to their practice settings; and encourage active participation and discussion during and at the conclusion of your session. Repeat any questions that are asked if a microphone has not been used by the participant.

Be mindful of timing. Use your entire session time constructively. Avoid ending early as this may affect CLE credits. If you run out of time before having presented all of your intended material, instead of telling the audience you don’t have time, tell them you are finished talking about the topic and that you have included additional information in your course materials.

End on a positive note. Summarize your goals for the presentation and connect concepts to real-life practice. Thank the audience for their attendance and attention.