Speaker Resources

Congratulations on being selected to be a NAMICon speaker! Below is some information you may find helpful as your prepare for your presentation.

Speaker Tips

Know your audience.

Your session is about them, not you. Is the audience going to be mainly peers, health professionals, family, students or consumers? What do they want and need to hear? What are their biggest challenges around your topic? Understanding your audience and their struggles will hook them and keep them engaged.

Start with the End in Mind
What do you want the audience to think, feel and do as a result of experiencing your session? Once you have those answers you can begin building your program to achieve those goals.

Have an Engagement Plan.

Listening does not equal learning. How do you plan to have the audience think, reflect and share their learning from your session so it sticks? What is the audience going to be doing during your 60-minute session?

Cultivate Stories.

Stories are the best way to make an emotional connection with the audience. It plays a movie in their mind which can lock in the learning point. Anecdotes can be a particularly effective way to connect with an audience too.

Bookend Your Presentation

The way you open and close your session is what the audience will remember the most. Grab attention at the beginning, and close with a dynamic end.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to overcome anxiety is to prepare, prepare, and prepare some more. Take the time to go over your notes several times. Once you have become comfortable with the material, practice—a lot. Videotape yourself, or get a friend to critique your performance.

Be Authentic

The most effective speakers are the ones that speak from the heart. Just be yourself in service of the audience. You will establish better credibility if your personality shines through, and your audience will trust what you have to say if they can see you as a real person.

Use Good Eye Contact

Actually, look directly at people in the audience when you’re speaking. Not only will this help you slow your speech down but it will help you calm down. Focus on making a personal connection and move around the room so everyone feels the love.

Leave Time for Questions.
Talking until the last minute is a common mistake many speakers make. If you have an hourlong presentation, plan for 45 minutes of talking and 15 minutes for questions/interaction.

Tips for Creating an Interactive Panel Session

Panel Learning Design

  • What is the objective of the panel? What do you want the audience to think, feel and do as a result of participating?
  • How fresh is the information? How relevant?

Design for Audience Engagement

  • Moderator should set cadence or drumbeat from the very beginning.
  • Continually reinforce that this is a conversation.
  • Leverage technology for audience interaction where you can launch Polls, manage Q&A or create word clouds.
  • Use limited slides to support your panel, or use a video clip to shift energy or land a point.

 Moderator Audience Engagement Strategies

  • Walk About. Walk into the audience to get their ideas and opinions on the topic.
  • Hot Seat. Ask for a volunteer from the audience who wants some feedback from the panelists. Allow them to briefly state their situation/what they want help on, and then let the panel provide advice.
  • Q&A. Make sure you save enough time for a Q&A session at the end.
  • Summarize. At the conclusion, the moderator traditionally summarizes the key points. Instead, ask the audience to shout out the key takeaways.
  • Change it up! Shift the energy to get the audience to lean in to keep their attention. For example, you can say; ‘we are going to shift gears now,’ or ‘I want to move to a new topic now’ or We want to hear from you now…

Audience Interactions


You do not expect a direct response from the audience, but you do expect them to answer it in their heads.


Ask participants about their own experiences that are directly related to the content.  Help participants recall or envision times when they have been in similar situations.  Usually used to introduce a problem that your presentation will solve:

  • “Have you ever had…”
  • “Did you ever find…”
  • “How many times have you…”
  • “When is the last time you…”
  • “Do you sometimes…”
  • “Have any of you ever tried to do this?”
  • “Have you ever wondered…”

Suffer Silence

Let the audience fill the space – patiently and calmly give the audience time to collect their thoughts and get the courage to raise their hands.  If you force yourself not to provide the answer, you will find that your participants will respond.


Acknowledge the response.

  • Validate the answer by writing it down on a flipchart if necessary to “anchor” the comment.
  • Paraphrase/clarify/empathize with their answer. Build on if necessary.
  • Extend the response by asking for examples, explanations, or other opinions.

Ask Good Questions                

Ask the audience a strategic or provocative question which challenges them to think.

  • Ask for real or hypothetical examples of your concepts
  • Ask for real stories that demonstrate your concepts
  • Pose an ethical dilemma and ask for their position
  • Present a case study and ask how they would respond
  • Ask powerful questions like:
    • Have you ever had…
    • Did you ever find…
    • How many times have you…
    • When is the last time you…
    • Do you sometimes…
    • What do you love about…
    • What drives you nuts about…
    • Have you ever wondered…
    • How do you feel about______
    • What do you think of this idea…
    • How would you apply this at your job?
    • What obstacles are keeping you from doing this?
    • What would it take to make this happen in your office?

Shout it OutSolicit their ideas!

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
4301 Wilson Blvd #300, Arlington, VA 22203