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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.

This resource will be continually updated. Please check back periodically for updates!

Knowing and Engaging Your Audience

  • Why this is important

    Why this is important

    1. Because this is the whole point of your presentation! It's the whole point of why you’re doing this.
    2. Understand who you are presenting to in order to tailor applicable portions of your presentation. You want to be seen as a true subject matter expert, so take the time to craft your presentation adequately for the audience.
    3. Keep your audience tuned in throughout your presentation. 
  • Items to consider

    Items to consider

    1. Geographical awareness – you may be presenting in the morning, but it may be afternoon for others.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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. 
    5. Avoid acronyms and jargon unless you are certain the audience will know what they mean.
  • Use available resources (from ACC) to learn about your audience

    What's in your speaker service centers:

    1. Meeting-level general attendee demographics
      • To see these summarized demographics, please click on the Speaker Service Center link found within your speaker confirmation email. (Didn't receive it? Please contact us at programs@acc.com.)
      • 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 "Attendee Demographics."Speaker Service Center screenshot with deadlines, sections, links to additional resources
         
      • 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

    Methods of engagement

    1. Polling (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”).
      • Submit the poll questions and answer choices (if applicable) in the presentation slides by one month prior to the presentation delivery, unless confirmed otherwise by your ACC liaison.
      • ACC sets up the poll(s) (final version; no edits after this point) for use during presentation.
      • Please see the "Resources" section for additional ACC polling instructions.
    2. Breakout groups*
    3. Whiteboard exercise
    4. Audience Q&A (verbal or in chat)
    5. Chat
    6. Competition quizzes

    *Breakout rooms (in Zoom) must be randomized for a session with 50 or more attendees. If fewer than 50, please coordinate with your ACC staff liaison 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.

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

  • Resources

    Resources

    1. 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.

    2. Keeping Your Audience Engaged (7:08)

    3. Cultural Diversity – Tips for Communicating with Cultural Awareness (Speakfirst) (5:01)

    4. How to Keep Your Communication REAL – Relatable, Emotional, Authentic, Lively (Public Speaking for Life)

    5. ACC Polling Instructions (Note: This resource uses the Annual Meeting template. Please see your Speaker Service Center for your meeting-specific course materials template.)

Confirmed speakers: Did you receive your speaker confirmation email, with your Speaker Service Center link? If not, please contact us at programs@acc.com.

Course Materials and CLE

  • Key considerations

    Course Materials Key Considerations

    As you know, the primary objective of most conference attendees is to earn their mandatory CLE/CPD credit. Recently, many jurisdictions have adopted more stringent standards for accreditation. These updates can make preparing an effective and engaging presentation that also meets accreditation requirements somewhat challenging.

    The guidance below aims to help you and your speakers navigate this challenge. The recommended format and content of your course materials vary based upon your session type (i.e. panel discussion, workshop, roundtable). Regardless, slide decks are required by many jurisdictions and are also expected by attendees as takeaway materials.

    Thank you in advance for working with us to make sure your attendees get the credit they need out of your presentation, and thank you for submitting the following materials in their native format (i.e. Word, Excel, PowerPoint) by the deadline.

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

    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)

    How to Submit Final Course Materials:

    • Don’t forget to use the official meeting PowerPoint Template (varies for each meeting - please see your Speaker Service Center)
    • Click on “Course Materials” under “Speaker Checklist” on the top right of this Service Center
    • Browse to upload your files, label them, and provide any relevant notes or instructions
       
  • CLE/CPD eligibility (includes special section on ethics CLE)

    Why this is important

    1. We need course materials from each session to submit to the jurisdictions for CLE approval.
    2. Most attendees register for programs in order to earn CLE/CPD credits.

    Eligibility vs. best practices

    • ACC needs course materials (big part of which is your slide deck) for CLE/CPD application purposes. Slide decks are a critical visual component to complement your oral presentation. For additional guidance regarding course materials that can be submitted for CLE/CPD applications, please see "Best Practices - Panel/Workshop/Roundtable" (as applicable to your session) under "Course Materials and Slide Decks."
    • 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
    • Ethics – if your session references ethics rules (and will be submitted for ethics credit approval), the steps in the following section need to be taken to ensure attendees can earn the maximum amount of ethics credit.

    Special Considerations for Ethics Sessions

    1. Clearly 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

    Polling and CLE

    1. If you decide to do polling Q&A with your attendees, in addition to the question, be sure to put the answer choices in the presentation itself.
      • In the “notes” section of your slides (for the CLE application only, not to be shared with attendees), it would be helpful to put in the correct answer choice, if it’s a question that has a right/wrong answer.
      • For that correct answer choice, you may want to 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. Adding a short sentence or the definition language from the ABA website to each content slide that contains a model rule would also help.
    3. It would help to have several slides with substantive material, and/or materials (additional resources) in conjunction with your presentation.
  • Resources

Course Materials and Slide Decks

  • Key considerations

    Why this is important

    1. Slide decks are a big component of your session and presentation.
    2. ACC needs course materials (big part of which is your slide deck) for CLE/CPD application purposes. Your attendees want CLE/CPD credit, so try to craft content where slides are provided.
    • Note: If you do not wish to present a deck, you must seek advance approval from ACC staff via programs@acc.com and explore alternative options for securing CLE/CPD accreditation and providing takeaways.

    PowerPoint Template

    We recommend using 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. Use more visuals and fewer words per slide.
    2. Visuals have more impact than lines of words.
      • If there are more than four lines of copy on a slide, it’s too much and should be revised.
    3. Include an appendix with extra resources.

    Example to come!

    CLE considerations

    Please reference the section “CLE/CPD eligibility” under "Course Materials and CLE," above.

    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 would 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

    Breakout Rooms

    If you, as a Program Organizer or 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 liaison 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.

  • Slide Calculus and Content

    Slide Calculus

    1. Please visit your Speaker Service Center to download the meeting-specific template. (Didn't get your confirmation email with the link to your Speaker Service Center? Email us at programs@acc.com.)
    2. 12-18 main presentation slides for 90 minutes (See "Best Practices - Panel Discussions" below for a more detailed breakdown of the requested numbers of slides)
    3. Speak for no more than two thirds of the allotted time, with approximately three to five minutes per slide, and reserve the remaining time for discussion (for 75-minute sessions, this would equal 50 minutes of speaking + 25 minutes for Q&A/audience discussion)
    4. In case the audience has no questions, be prepared to discuss uncovered issues or under-developed points
    • Common pitfall: Spending too much time on the first few slides, then rushing through or skipping the rest of the deck

    Slide Content

    • Use the “5x5 Rule” -- five lines per slide x five words per line
    • Remember: It is impossible for listeners to read lengthy text and listen to the speaker simultaneously
    • “What key words will support the audience’s attention without distracting them from what we say?”
      • Tip: Insert images to support your message
         

        ACC Annual Meeting Content Slides Images support messaging! lightbulb

    • Ethics credit-eligible sessions must…
      1. Clearly state the relevant rule(s) of professional conduct on the slide,
      2. Dedicate a reasonable amount of time to discussing the relevant rules,
      3. Inform the audience of the relevant rule(s),
      4. Share the most practical and important considerations for in-house counsel, and
      5. Direct audience members to more information.
    • Include charts, graphs, diagrams, maps, pictures and/or video content where possible and relevant
      1. 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 to your total count requirement.
      2. Do not infringe on others’ intellectual property rights
      3. For videos, insert link to content, if possible, in order to keep the overall file size from being too large
    • Use easily readable text in the PowerPoint Template
    • Please submit one final document – thank you for combining all your speakers’ presentations prior to submission.
    • 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.
  • Best Practices - Panel Discussions

    Panel Discussions

    To ensure CLE/CPD accreditation compliance, we recommend that your deck include a main presentation section that is informative, engaging, compelling, and concise, plus an appendix of slides should include enough context and substantive information for attendees to be able to refer to at a later date and still understand.

      90-Minute Session 75-Minute Session 60-Minute Session
    Total Number of Slides* 45 38 30
    Main Presentation 12-20 10-16 8-13
    Appendix 25-33 22-28 17-22
    Total Speaking Time 60 Minutes 50 Minutes 40 Minutes
    Time per Slide 3-5 Minutes 3-5 Minutes 3-5 Minutes
    Q&A Time** 30 Minutes 25 Minutes  20 Minutes

    *This is the official number of slides required to meet CLE/CPD accreditation requirements in the most stringent jurisdiction. It amounts to one slide for every two minutes of allotted presentation time. Thank you for your help in meeting these requirements.

    **If the audience has no questions, be prepared to discuss issues in your appendix or under-developed points. We recommend speakers prepare three canned questions for their presentations.

  • Best Practices - Workshops

    Workshops

    For CLE/CPD purposes, 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.
    • If the workshop is more than a couple of hours, make sure to plan for breaks in order to keep people engaged.
  • Best Practices - Roundtables

    Roundtables

    For CLE/CPD purposes, 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.
  • Resources

    Resources

Managing Time and Nerves

Rehearsing

  • Key considerations

    Why this is important

    1. Rehearsing with your co-presenters in the environment in which you will deliver your presentation is essential to giving an effective presentation. Practicing allows presenters to become more comfortable with technology and visual aids while staying within the timeframe of the allotted time. 
    2. Plan to rehearse at least two times with your full set of speakers. 

    Guidance

    How to make the most of your virtual speaker ready room time:

    1. Come prepared, having thought about your presentation already – review slide notes or the session flow document to make good use of your time. 
    2. Virtual – the rehearsal is also a tech check of sorts (your lighting, video, audio, connectivity, etc.)
    3. Record yourself – Use your computer or smartphone to figure out if you speak too fast, clearly enough, or with enough dynamism. Would you want to listen to yourself?
  • Using a virtual speaker ready room

    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. See "Moderating Sessions" section below for more details on this role.
      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.
  • Resources

Delivery Tips

  • Key considerations and universal guidance

    Why this is important

    1. An effective presentation relies on speakers delivering their content in an engaging, easy-to-follow manner.
    2. Start with your roadmap so the audience knows what main points you plan to cover. 
      • Tip: Use the Proposed Course Outline resource to help get you started.
      • Engage the audience from the start to the end of your presentation – poll the audience, ask questions, prepare tabletop exercises, and maintain eye contact.
      • 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.
      • Reserve time to conclude by summarizing the key points you want your audience to remember.

    Universal considerations

    1. Body language. Face the camera with your head and your body, with your body language being open.
      • Tip: We would recommend avoiding crossing one's arms across his/her chest. Try to avoid fidgeting, such as with items on one's desk, as that can distract the audience.
    2. Voice – stay hydrated and refrain from overusing your voice leading up to the presentation. Consider drinking hot tea with honey to soothe your throat. 
    3. Tone – relatable/emotional/authentic/lively
    4. Welcoming the audience and from an early point, getting them to use the chat function to engage.
    5. Including and managing interactivity
    6. Having a backup plan (if someone can’t speak, dropped connection, etc.). Ensure all speakers have an outline or script of what will be covered for each slide and can step in should a speaker lose his/her internet connection.
    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.
  • Virtual speaking nuances

    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.
  • Resources

Handling Q&A

  • Key considerations

    Why this is important

    1. Engagement
    2. CLE requirement

    Preparing 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.
     

  • Resources

Moderating Sessions

  • Key considerations

    Why this is important

    Though not required, many programs include a moderator as part of their speaker lineup. This role is important in helping to keep the presentation organized for the group to deliver an effective presentation. 

    Best practices

    • Organize the presentation preparation
    • Conduct a dry run with the speakers prior to the presentation (together virtually in Zoom).
    • On presentation day:
      1. Join the session 30 minutes early. 
      2. Ensure speaker video can be seen and audio can be heard.
      3. Open any files (PowerPoint, videos, webpages) needed for the presentation. 
        • If your PowerPoint has polling embedded, please make sure you, as the person screen-sharing the PowerPoint, are logged into the account shared by your ACC staff liaison. Inform the audience that you will use polling and inform them about how to participate.
      4. Ask your participants if they can hear you at the beginning of the session. If you don’t get a response, type this question in the chat box. 
      5. Welcome attendees and introduce the program and speakers. Decide in advance if speakers will self-introduce.
      6. Encourage attendees to share where they are joining from in the session chat. 
      7. Monitor chat for questions or points that the speakers may want to address.
      8. Ask questions and provide opportunity for interaction and engagement.
      9. Run polling (if applicable) at appropriate time. 
      10. Keep time and remind speakers about the amount of time left in the session. 
      11. Keep presentation on topic.
      12. Bring the discussion to a close on time. 
      13. Thank attendees.
      14. Ask attendees to complete the session evaluation.

If your question or issue is NOT addressed in any of the information above, please contact us at programs@acc.com. But please ensure you had reviewed each relevant section, because we may end up pointing you back to this page!

ACC

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