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Use a pile driver! 5 Tips for a Successful Presentation Submission

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

Presenting at a conference is an important part of our professional Iives — it gives you a chance to share your work, your insights, and to help others improve.

But it can be frightening!

You’ll be exposing details about how you think, your level of knowledge, and (most importantly) how you communicate. Accept it. Focus on the positive: A successful presentation leads to a better understanding of your work by the audience and likely greater Community success as your audience leverages what you have shared.

So what makes a good presentation and submission? Here are a few tips:

  1. Be an advocate for the audience. This puts you one step closer to developing a good abstract for submission and ultimately delivering an effective presentation. Do your research when starting to prepare your presentation — take a look at the past agendas and presenters at CHOLearning conferences, which can reveal the topics that are in highest demand.

  2. Think about the elevator speech. If you had 30 seconds alone in an elevator with the person you most want to understand your ideas, what would you say? Start your plan with your key ideas, messages, and what is most important for your audience to know — don’t start with building slides! After you capture those concepts, loosely tie them together with a flow or outline, along with logical progression between each idea. This will help you establish the flow of your presentation.

  3. Be 10 percent effective. Research shows that immediately after a presentation, listeners remembered 50 percent of what was said. By the next day 25 percent, and a week later it was only 10 percent. Plan for that — what is the 10 percent that you want to make most memorable?

  4. Use a pile driver. Winston Churchill said “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time — a tremendous whack.” Repetition is crucial!

  5. S.A.V.E. While you won’t use this tip until you create a presentation, it’s important to consider as you construct an abstract for submission. Think about the key ways you’ll present — again, research shows that stories, analogies, visuals and examples (along with repetition) help bring your insights to life.


Here are a few highlights from the 2022 Conference for inspiration and a flavor for the type of presentation we're looking for.

"It's probably just..." According to long-time Community Member, Laurin Mooney, these are the three most dangerous words in complex work. Enjoy this highlight reel from our conference when Laurin and Chris Hansen share their personal insights into dealing with complex work through the losses they've experienced.


It can be hard to present on the final day of a conference...after lunch. Enjoy this engaging and fun-filled highlight video from the presentation, "Rethinking Organizational Drift."


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