I was recently hired by an association to conduct a webinar for the presenters at their upcoming conference (the event is in two month). The days of experts taking the stage to deliver data dumps are long gone (or should be). Audiences today expect more from speakers at conferences. Not everyone on the agenda can be a seasoned professional speaker, but everyone who presents should be invested in delivering value.
My mantra is "Just because someone is smart or has done something cool -- it does not mean they belong on the stage". The ongoing argument between content and style in speeches is bullshit. It is NOT too much to expect both!!! Audiences want to learn, but do not want to be bored to death. They expect to have a connection to the person on the stage.
The association I am working with has adopted a TED Talk style format. Their morning session will involve six presentations with each speaker having twenty minutes. But TED is about more than short format presentations. To "wow" an audience in a limited time frame the presenters must know their points and purpose. Preparation is key.
We are used to hour time slots at business events and speakers often take the whole time to connect with their audience. Longer format talks are easier to create and deliver compared to short talks. I find it takes me three times as much advance preparation for a short format speech as it does for an hour.
To create a meaningful conversational presentation you must be audience focused. Everything you do must be crafted to have impact. Your preparation time will be ten to forty hours in advance of the conference. If you are not planning to dedicate the time needed to create a great speech, then do not accept the invitation to present.
Things to remember:
- Practice, practice, practice
- Take a few minutes back stage to mentally prepare
- Show, don't tell
- Edit out the fluff
- Have a strong opening and close
- No need to tell them what you will say, and what you said. Just tell them once (with power)
- Leave your ego at home
- Meet the audience in advance
- Stay after you are done to talk to everyone who wants to meet you
- Let your personality shine through
- Conversations have no scripts
- Humor is good, not jokes!
- What you wear matters
- Do not hand out your PPT slides in advance
- Fewer words on PPT is better - pictures are best
- Your presentation is an experience for the audience
- Never run over time
- Be authentic
What do you think?