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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the world's largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations, nonprofits and other private-sector organizations around the globe.

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Find practical tips for first-time presenters & quick refreshers for savvy orators in this Speaker Tips and Guidelines Toolkit.

Confirmed speakers: Did you receive your speaker confirmation email? If not, contact us at programs@acc.com.

ACC Conference Speaker Training

The ACC Conference Speaker Training is built for speakers of all types, at all conferences – ACC or otherwise! Complete with take-home exercises and handouts, this training is designed to help you craft and deliver presentations that the audience will remember long after the session is over.

Exercises and handouts are only available through ACC Online Education Library access (link coming soon).

View the recordings for free here.

Knowing and engaging your audience

  • Items to consider

    1. Avoid acronyms and jargon unless you are certain the audience will know what they mean.
    2. Use available ACC resources to learn about your audience
      • To see summarized meeting-level general attendee demographics, please click on the Speaker Service Center link found within your speaker confirmation email. (Didn't receive it? Contact us.)
      • Once in your Speaker Service Center, scroll toward the bottom of the page, and look to the links on the right-hand side. Click on "Meeting Attendee Demographics."
      • Within the window that pops up on the same screen, select the question that will show the demographic you are interested in seeing.

        Speaker Service Center Attendee Demographics pop-up window with drop-down of questions to choose from

  • Methods of engagement

    1. Polling (competition quizzes, multiple choice, word clouds, Q&A)
      • To request polling, indicate this request in your Program Organizer Service Center or Speaker Service Center (under “Engagement Tools Request”).
      • Insert the poll questions and answer choices (if applicable) in the presentation slides at least one month prior to your presentation date.
      • ACC sets up the poll(s) (final version; no edits after this point) for use during your presentation.
      • ACC Polling Instructions (Note: This resource uses the Annual Meeting template. Please see your Speaker Service Center for your meeting-specific course materials template.)
    2. Breakout groups
    3. Flipchart exercise
    4. Audience Q&A
    5. Competition quizzes

    Please communicate with your session’s ACC staff liaison to request engagement needs by the deadline to support your session’s success. You can find your liaison's contact information in your Speaker Service Center.

  • Advanced-level presentation guidance

    Advanced-level presentations should be prepared to appeal to experienced in-house counsel and next-generation GCs and CLOs.

    1. Avoid dedicating time to explaining the basics of the topic or providing a general overview of the area of law concerned.
    2. Instead, address issues and have discussions that bring valuable in-depth, expert insights, practical tips and/or innovative approaches.
    3. Examples:
      • Investigate latest developments in a particular practice and developments on the horizon. Address…
        • New and emerging risks and opportunities and implications for…
          1. The organization (business risks and opportunities, business decision-making, corporate governance, corporate liability, etc.)
          2. Third party relationships (outside counsel, vendors, sub-contractors, etc.)
          3. The legal or compliance team(s) (role, responsibilities, resources, best practices, tools and technology, demonstrating value, etc.)
          4. The in-house professional him/herself (role(s), professional responsibility, ethics, career development, etc.)
        • Guidance for adapting and addressing these trends
      • Discuss in depth sub-issues or issues at the intersection of two key topics.
      • Discuss in depth practical strategies, tools, best practices and/or resources management for improving effectiveness.
  • Resources

    1. Keeping Your Audience Engaged (video, duration 7:08)
    2. Cultural Diversity – Tips for Communicating with Cultural Awareness (Speakfirst) (video, duration 5:01)
    3. How to Keep Your Communication REAL – Relatable, Emotional, Authentic, Lively (Public Speaking for Life)
    4. ACC Polling Instructions (Note: This resource uses the Annual Meeting template. Please see your Speaker Service Center for your meeting-specific course materials template.)

Course materials and CLE/CPD credits

  • Reminders and best practices

    Engaging and informative course materials are an important aspect of the attendee learning experience and the course materials you submit are used to determine the CLE eligibility of your session.

    The guidance below aims to help our Program Organizers and speakers draft practical course takeaways and CLE compliant course materials.

    The recommended format and content of your course materials vary based upon your session type (e.g. panel discussion, workshop, roundtable, etc.). However, regardless of session type, slide decks are required by many jurisdictions and are also expected by attendees as takeaway materials.

    Note: If you do not wish to present a deck, you must seek advance approval from your ACC staff liaison and explore alternative options for securing CLE/CPD accreditation and providing takeaways. 

    There are two primary types of course materials you should submit by the course materials deadline for each session on which you speak:

    1. Final CLE compliant PowerPoint presentation or session outline
    2. Practical takeaway guidance for audience members, such as:
      • Samples
      • Checklists
      • Articles
      • White papers

    PowerPoint template:

    We ask that you use the meeting template, which includes helpful tips for creating your presentation. Please see your Speaker Service Center for the meeting-appropriate template. (Didn't get the confirmation email with your Speaker Service Center link? Email us at programs@acc.com.)


    Learning best practices:

    1. Be mindful of how much text is on each slide.
      • Use the “5x5 Rule” -- five lines per slide x five words per line
      • Feel free to move speaker notes and additional explanations to the "Notes" section under each slide.
        • You may provide a version of the PowerPoint without speaker notes, for attendee access.
    2. Include charts, graphs, diagrams, maps, pictures and/or video content where possible and relevant
      • Important note: Images generally covering more than 35% of the slide may negatively impact CLE/CPD accreditation. If you wish to include a full-slide image or video, please add a “compliant” slide as well.
      • Do not infringe on others’ intellectual property rights. 
      • For videos, insert link to content, if possible, in order to keep the overall file size from being too large.
        • Or, share the video files with your ACC liaison using a shared folder (e.g. Google Drive, SharePoint, Dropbox, etc.) and request for the videos to be embedded in the projection version of the PowerPoint. Once the videos have been embedded, that version of the PowerPoint is your final version.
    3. Include an appendix with extra resources.
    4. Use easily readable text in the PowerPoint Template.

    Copyright/permissions:

    • Speakers are responsible for obtaining approval/permission to use video, audio, images, etc. not created by them. ACC does not seek this approval on behalf of speakers.
      • We suggest credit for use be listed on the bottom margin of the slide for clarity.

    Accessibility considerations:

    1. Microsoft accessibility features - prior to submitting your files, run the accessibility checker to ensure your file does not have anything that prevents all audience members from understanding your material. 
    2. Alt text - provide descriptive written text for images.
    3. Easier-to-read fonts (suggested fonts: Arial, Calibri, and Verdana)
    4. Font/color contrast - colors must have sufficient contrast between text color and background. (We would suggest speakers not use red, yellow, or white text on slides as a rule.)
    5. Meaningful links - screen readers may navigate content by tabbing through links and bypassing other content. Each link should have meaningful (concise) text describing the purpose of the link without relying on surrounding text. Ex: Today’s weather and Learn about web accessibility
  • General CLE/CPD eligibility

    • Slide decks are a critical visual component to complement your oral presentation. ACC needs course materials (largely comprised of your slide deck) for CLE/CPD application purposes. 
    • Additional guidance regarding course materials that can be submitted for CLE/CPD applications:
      • Panel Discussions:
        • We recommend that your deck include a main presentation section that is informative, engaging, compelling, and concise, plus an appendix. Your slide deck should include enough context and substantive information for attendees to be able to refer to at a later date and still understand.
        • Your presentation must include time for audience Q&A. If the audience has no questions, be prepared to discuss issues or under-developed points within your appendix. We recommend speakers prepare a minimum of three canned questions for their presentations.
      • Workshops:
        • Please submit 1) a brief slide deck covering the workshop’s subject matter, objectives, activities, and final thoughts and 2) practical takeaway materials such as checklists, templates, and sample policies and procedures as additional materials for attendees.

        • The purpose of a workshop is to teach participants practical skills, techniques, and/or ideas that they can then use on the job.
        • Workshops should be designed for interactivity and networking among participants. Please try to incorporate both hands-on exercises as well as opportunity for group discussion.
      • Roundtables:
        • Please submit 1) a brief slide deck covering the roundtable’s objectives, key topics, discussion questions, and final thoughts and 2) practical takeaway materials such as checklists, templates, and sample policies and procedures.

        • Discussion questions should be thought-provoking, open-ended questions designed to dig into the key topics and surrounding issues.

        • Be detailed in the formulation of the questions. Develop enough questions to completely explore the issues.
        • Keep track of major points, ideas, and conclusions reached during discussion. A successful conversation produces insight that is useful to attendees after the meeting.
        • If possible, suggest ways for attendees to implement the results of the conversation and/or continue the conversation in another forum.
    1. Ethics CLE

      1. Explicitly state the relevant rule(s) of professional conduct on the slides
        • Use citations where appropriate
      2. Dedicate a reasonable amount of time to discussing the relevant rule(s):
        • Inform the audience of the relevant rule(s),
        • Share the most practical and important considerations for in-house counsel, and
        • Direct audience members to more information
      3. Include the answer and explanation to any hypotheticals that are presented. 
        • Adding the definition language from the ABA website to each content slide that contains a model rule also helps.

      Eligibility notes specific to Virginia (from previous CLE staff): 

      • “I can tell you that the Board that rejects written materials is Virginia. One of the main reasons is b/c they want the materials to contain a hypothetical and the answer to the hypothetical in the slides. Without this, it will surely be denied. Also, jurisdictions have shared that they prefer the CLE submissions to reflect substantive law and not just been clip art from the internet. I have one PPT that they approved and thought highly of: 2018 Annual Meeting Session 506 PowerPoint
    2. Polling and CLE

      1. If you decide to include polling, in addition to the question(s), be sure to include the answer choices in the presentation itself.
        • If the polling question has a right/wrong answer, in the “Notes” section of your slides (for the CLE application only, not to be shared with attendees), please include the correct answer choice.
        • For that correct answer choice, include an explanation of the answer that includes the ABA model rule the question/answer pertain to, since that would add weight towards ethics eligibility.
      2. It would help to have several slides with substantive material, and/or materials (additional resources) in conjunction with your presentation.
    3. How to submit final course materials

      1. Click on “Course Materials” under “Speaker Checklist” on the top right of your Speaker Service Center. (Don't have the link? Contact us.)
      2. Please submit one final document – thank you for combining all your speakers’ presentations prior to submission.
      3. Browse to upload your files, label them, and provide any relevant notes or instruction.

      ACC is happy to help redact documents for speakers who wish to submit practical materials but do not have time to remove sensitive information. Please email programs@acc.com for assistance.

      Please Do Not:

      • Password protect/lock your files
      • Include your company’s logo
      • Provide copyright-protected materials without first seeking permission
      • Include excessive images (file size can become unwieldy and slow down your slideshow)

      NOTE: It is very important to meet the Course Materials submission deadline. That allows time to get approval from each state for determining CLE/CPD credits.

    4. Resources

      Resources

    Rehearsing and delivery

    • Key considerations

        Rehearsing

        • Plan to rehearse at least two times with your full set of speakers. 
        • One speaker (or, moderator) should be identified prior to the presentation to keep and manage time for the presenters. We recommend using the timer on a mobile phone, or tablet that is nearby the device used for the presentation.

        Delivery tips

        • Start with your roadmap so the audience knows what main points you plan to cover. 
          1. Tip: Use the Proposed Course Outline resource to help get you started.
          2. Engage the audience from the start to the end of your presentation – poll the audience, ask questions, prepare tabletop exercises, and maintain eye contact.
          3. Manage time by appointing a timekeeper, planning time allocations, rehearsing in advance, and knowing what time to begin Q&A.
            • Tip: We recommend assigning this role to the moderator. See "Moderating Sessions" section below for more details on this role.
          4. Reserve time to conclude by summarizing the key points you want your audience to remember.

        Prepare questions beforehand

        1. We highly recommend brainstorming with your co-presenters about possible questions or scenarios your attendees might have or ask in order to best answer them. 
        2. Should your audience not have any questions, you should have at least three questions prepared in advance that the moderator can ask the speakers.

        Tip: Don’t fear silence - risk waiting for answers from your audience.

        Important note: Having a Q&A section for your presentation is a requirement for CLE eligibility for your session.

        Universal considerations

        1. Body language. Face the audience with your head and your body, with your body language being open.
          • Tip: We would recommend avoiding crossing one's arms across their chest. Try to avoid fidgeting as that can distract the audience.
        2. Voice – stay hydrated and refrain from overusing your voice leading up to the presentation. 
        3. Tone – relatable/authentic/lively
        4. Welcoming the audience and engaging them from an early point (e.g. introductory poll question)
        5. Including and managing interactivity
        6. Having a backup plan (if someone can’t speak, technical difficulties etc.). Ensure all speakers have an outline or script of what will be covered for each slide and can step in should the need arise.
        7. Reserve time to conclude by summarizing the key points you want your audience to remember.
        8. Please do not forget to emphasize the importance of attendees completing session evaluations. You want the feedback! ACC will share the audience’s feedback 2-4 weeks after the meeting through your Speaker Service Center.
      1. Moderating sessions

        Best practices

        • Organize the presentation preparation
        • Conduct a dry run with the speakers prior to the presentation (together virtually in Teams, Zoom, or similar).
        • On presentation day:
          1. Arrive to the session 20-30 minutes early. 
          2. Ensure speaker audio can be heard.
          3. Open any files (PowerPoint, videos, webpages) needed for the presentation. 
            • If your PowerPoint has polling embedded, inform the audience that you will use polling and inform them about how to participate.
          4. Address any housekeeping remarks, provided at the podium or head table by ACC.
          5. Welcome attendees and introduce the program and speakers. Decide in advance if speakers will self-introduce.
          6. Ask questions and provide opportunity for interaction and engagement.
          7. Run polling (if applicable) at appropriate time. 
          8. Keep time and remind speakers about the amount of time left in the session. 
          9. Keep presentation on topic.
          10. Bring the discussion to a close on time. 
          11. Thank attendees.
          12. Ask attendees to complete the session evaluation.
      2. Resources

      Additional guidance for virtual presentations (Online Education programs)

      • Key considerations

        Using a virtual speaker ready room

        This speaker ready room could be on Zoom.

        How to make the most of your green room time:

        1 - 2 weeks before Presentation Day

        1. Do a dry run with all speakers.
        2. Test sound and presentation flow.
        3. Assign co-host to advance slides.
          • We recommend assigning this role to the moderator.
        4. Ensure technology works, including any polling or 3rd party engagement tools.

        Presentation Day

        1. Ensure all speakers arrive 30 minutes prior to the session start time to do final sound and technology (including video) checks.
        2. Confirm your display name includes speaker first and last names.

        Virtual speaking nuances

        • Internet - Consider using a hard wire to connect your presentation computer with your router. If this is not possible and you need to use WiFi, we recommend doing the following:
          1. Restart your router one week prior to your presentation and confirm your Internet connection after the restart.  
            • Tip: If you are unsure how to do this, contact your Internet Service Provider for instructions.
          2. Perform a bandwidth test (using sites such as https://www.speedtest.net/ or https://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/ )
          3. Move as close as you can to your WiFi router or access point.
          4. Ensure your location has a clear “line of sight” between your computer and your router.
          5. Turn off unnecessary devices using your WiFi.
          6. Close any programs that are not necessary for your presentation.
        • Face the camera and look at the lens in the event that audience members need to read lips
        • Video considerations when presenting
          1. Camera-ready background (clean, simple, organized)
          2. Proper lighting
          3. Virtual backgrounds
          4. Audio considerations when presenting - make sure to enunciate clearly and not speak too fast. 
          5. Clear your space of any distractions
          6. If you share a space with others, let them know about your presentation time.
          7. Choose your clothing as you want to present yourself - professional, yet approachable.
        • Geographical awareness – you may be presenting in the morning, but it may be afternoon for others.
        • Cultural diversity – saying phrases like "You know," "You guys," and "Most people know" are not looked at favorably outside of the US, so keep phraseology as basic as possible.
        • Audience expectations
          • Attendees join your session based on the published title and description and formulate their expectations accordingly. 
          • How you deliver – ensure you are facing the camera and speaking into it. Some audience members may need to read lips to understand you.
          • Actionable takeaways – session evaluations consistently tell us that attendees are looking for practical and actionable takeaways from sessions, including but not limited to checklists and templates. Even including a "Top Things to Remember" closing slide is helpful for learning retention.
        • Format – if your audience is live, remember that your session is being recorded for a future on-demand audience, so plan your oral information accordingly.
        • Interactivity options: Audience Q&A, Chat, Breakout rooms 

          • Breakout rooms – if you, as a speaker, wish to use breakout rooms in Zoom, the rooms must be randomized for a session with 50 or more attendees. If fewer than 50, please coordinate with your ACC staff contact to request attendees to add their preferred breakout to the end of their names in Zoom, so that someone (the moderator or ACC staff on the call) can manually sort attendees into groups during the live day presentation.

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