Schools, writers and governments do it, and you have probably participated in a conference, too. Literally, a conference is any formal meeting, but in practice conferences are scheduled, publicized and held in specified places best suited for the topic and audience. Anyone who has spoken more than three sentences in front of a group can effectively open a conference.
Pass out a written agenda. This makes it easy for your conference attendees to follow along and keeps the meeting on track. If you are opening a telephone conference, email the meeting's agenda to all attendees beforehand. Use a headset to minimize physical strain and increase audio quality.
Smile before you address the group. Smiling boosts your self-confidence, makes you seem more trustworthy, and increases your attractiveness. It will also help you to relax.
Welcome attendees and thank them for their time. Even if the conference is mandatory, people like to feel appreciated for spending their time.
Using your PowerPoint presentation, review the conference's agenda.
Invite people to ask questions and make comments via their cell phones. This will encourage even shy attendees to participate, as well as minimize the conversation being dominated by one person. Simply turn to a slide on your PowerPoint presentation which has a cell phone number attendees can text comments and questions to. These messages can either be read from the receiving phone by you or any designated person, or they can be typed into your PowerPoint slides while one of the speakers is addressing the audience.
Tell everyone that you will be giving out prizes. It can be candy, movie tickets, or even oranges. People love "free," and they will love you for giving them something for "nothing." Prizes can be given for participation or any other reason.
Ask conference attendees to fill out a survey. Surveys will give you valuable feedback on your performance and the conference itself. Offering prizes can help you get more surveys returned.
Outline what you plan to do and say several days before each conference and rehearse. Memorization isn't necessary, and it's OK to use index cards as prompts. But don't simply read from the index cards because that makes you look ill prepared and unprofessional.
- conference image by Salem Alforaih from Fotolia.com