Nailing Your Presentation Skills…as Told by BrightonSEO

If I had a pound for every presentation I’d watched at BrightonSEO this year…well, dear reader, I’d have 18 whole pounds.

No fewer than 360 minutes did I spend scribbling on the topic of just about anything, including:

  • Hiring sustainably
  • Keyword research
  • Content strategy
  • Causal inference
  • Google’s latest trickery…
  • …and a whole lot more.

You can imagine that this makes for quite a few notes. So I thought it might be fun to present the takeaways instead, with a few tips for your presentation skills.

Accepting an award? Sharing expertise? Pitching to a client? Learn from the pros with these little presentation gems, courtesy of BrightonSEO 2021’s speakers.

1. Take it slow…for the drama

This is an interesting one to start with, as I’m told Searchmetrics CEO Matthew Colebourne was drafted in at the last minute. Regardless, he smashed it with his talk on search data for decision-making.

Some sobering stats in this talk. Nine in 10 of us think that data-driven decision-making is important, but just 58 per cent practise it. How did Matthew deliver these facts? Slowly. With dramatic pauses in the right place. Time for it to sink in. (And sober us up.)

2. Give it a killer introduction

I know what you’re thinking. This should have been point #1, right? It’s probably best to take a breath before leaping into the content though. Paige Hobart, Head of SEO at ROAST, let us know exactly what we were in for with her keyword research methods. Extraction. Metrics. Expansion. Optimisation. Boom.

Likewise, she nailed that structure by reiterating her key points. We saw a similar technique with Lucy Alice Dodds’ talk on content strategy – always referring back to that data-driven, holistic and actionable approach.

Hammer home that message to help them make notes…and stick in their minds.

3. Make your opinions known

It’s a rare skill to impart wisdom and make people laugh all at once. Tom Capper did it with aplomb.

Rather than succumbing to the demands of Google’s Core Web Vitals update, the Senior Search Scientist at Moz gave us his opinions on it – warts and all. The result? Hilarious real-life examples of just where Google has cocked up.

Only a true expert can speak with such conviction while the rest of us mere mortals cower behind the traffic lights. Thank you for your opinion, Tom!

4. Tell your stories

If you want to make a point, I’m more inclined to believe you if you have the personal experience to back it up. Bethan Vincent’s talk on hiring sustainably hit us right in the feels when she told us about her first day on the job in hospitality.

We’ve all fretted over the customer who wanted a jug of milk, Bethan. We all have. Gentle ribbing aside, Bethan’s talk had some eye-opening stats on the benefits of hiring Generation Zs.

It also brought to light the misconceptions about young people “not thinking for themselves”. As Bethan rightly puts it, they’ve had 18 months learning by themselves. They can do it.

5. Introduce a new concept with familiar examples

Jumping into the technical SEO talks with both feet was always going to be a giant mindf*ck, but my goodness. Causal inference, query classification, intent mining…I only came for the beach!

Only, Dateme Tubotamuno’s talk on causal inference and search intent didn’t make my head explode. Why? Because he illustrated every new concept with an everyday example. Case in point: he classified queries using the Brighton Centre as a search term. “Where is the Brighton Centre?” is a position query; “hotels near Brighton Centre” is a location-based query, and so on.

Lots of new words…brain remains intact and does not resemble Carol Vorderman, post-spontaneous combustion. Knowledge acquired.

6. Look at it from a different angle

We couldn’t get this far without mentioning Rise at Seven, surely. In his talk on bringing search, brand, PR and social together, Stephen Kenwright presented an interesting idea:

TV advertising helps search engine rankings.

Ridiculous, right? Wrong. Like Dateme, he used real-life examples, citing a campaign for Evans Halshaw. Rather amusingly, his teams managed to get Evans Halshaw ranking for “we buy any car” thanks to a TV ad script. In SEO terms, the TV campaign built up entities, which drove search.

“Most SEOs focus on facilitators – things that allow people to search. But we forget about drivers – the things that inspire us to take action in the first place.” If you’re running an SEO campaign, don’t forget your PR, social media and influencer marketing.

And if you’re doing a presentation…wow them with an alternative viewpoint.

7. Use your own data

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Your war stories will back up your point and so will your data. You can imagine my delight when Dimitris Drakatos, SEO & ASO Lead at Peanut App, shared his campaign data. (Did I mention we contributed a tasty chunk of the content for this campaign?)

Dimitris shared his insights on publishing velocity, extolling the virtues of finding writers who understand SEO and creating content clusters. The results? A massive leap from 200 organic entrances a month to 785,000. (Did we mention that was down to content? Yeah?)

Finally…a word on presentation from yours truly

It would be remiss of me not to say a huge thank you to Kelvin and co. for giving us the opportunity to present at BrightonSEO. We took to the stage at MeasureFest to talk about weighting systems for making decisions. It wasn’t the main stage but it was a chance to dip our toes in – hopefully in prep for a talk at the main event next year.

My two cents? “Always start with a joke.” OK, that’s David Brent, but the Chandler Bing in me can’t help it. I’d also argue that meeting the audience’s gaze every once in a while helps. And don’t be too scripted, for goodness’ sake. This is a presentation, not Henry V.

After two years, it was a privilege to attend BrightonSEO once again. It was also a revelation in how far we’ve come.

For starters, it’s we now, not me (say hi to Craig!). And I realised that rather than wandering around trying to chase new people, I was speaking to people I already knew. Transcending the Twitterverse and speaking in real life. One person even came up to me and told me she loved what I do on Twitter. Can you IMAGINE?

But enough gushing. If you’ve learnt even a tenth of what I learned at this year’s BrightonSEO, then it’s been worth your time.

Until next year…see you on the beach.

presentation brightonseo
Katie Lingo
by Katie Lingo
26th September 2021