Monday, June 13, 2011

Seven ways to make a speaking event amazing

I've spoken at thousands of events, and attended many more. Some have been astounding, some average, but many head-shakingly dull. When the most memorable part of an event is the goody bag, it's time to consider ways to liven things up. Here are a few suggestions:

1) Give the people what they want. The fact that you have access to a number of speakers who share a particular expertise does not mean you should build an event round them. Listen to the chatter on social media, talk to your clients and find out what problems they are trying to solve. Then look for experts to deliver the solutions.

2) Encourage interaction. The days of asking audience members to turn off their mobile phones are long gone. They will use them anyway, so make it easy for them to share information round Twitter hashtags, on Facebook pages and in other online forums. They are the best advocates for your event.

3) Make a one-day event last three months. Start the chat on social media long before the event, and encourage it to continue long after. The event itself is merely a milestone on the journey.

4) Book speakers who get involved. Ideally, your speakers should be there for the whole event, mixing with the delegates. It provides more value for everyone, since the speakers get feedback and find out real concerns, and the delegates have more opportunities to get their questions answered.

5) Get the technology right Too many events are ruined by poor sound, video that doesn't play or presentations that don't work. It's the reason why rehearsal time is important, and the need for a strong liaison between organisers, A/V staff and speakers.

6) Copy the best There are are a number of models for speaking events, from Ted.com to Takahashi. Take elements from other styles and adapt them for your use.

7) Never settle for anything less than great. It's getting harder to get people to come to events. Make sure that every element of an event is as good as you can make it. The weakest link in the chain may be the thing that people remember, so always aim high.

8 comments:

Michael Heppell said...

8. Use music. When people walk in to a room, as speakers walk up to the staff and at the end. Never use Simply the Best!

Margaret Adams said...

I think the reminder to give people what they want is so important. Many speakers come with a prepared speech that they don't tailor to suit the audience.

The whole post offers some useful tips to those of us who speak.

Thank you.

Alan Stevens said...

Thanks to Michael for a great tip, and to Margaret for kind words.

Lisa said...

Very interesting to take what could potentially be disruptive- the use of mobile's in talk time- and turn it into real-time potential.

Lynda Shaw said...

Points 1-7 are all excellent, but point 3 is so sensible. Highly useful info for event organisers and fellow speakers.

Thank you Alan.

thisisspain said...

All good advice, thanks.

The only thing I would add is ..."ensure your speaker(s) is/are approachable". People want to chat, press the flesh, take photos etc."

Nowadays, a speaker who is only seen in the 38 minutes he is actually on stage with a mike is not really doing anybody any favours. Geoff Ramm is a great example of somebody who really fills a session. Of after-dinner speakers Tarbuck and The Doc (Tommy Docherty) were superb. No autograph was too much trouble, no quip about a failed joke or a missed promotion caused offence. True pros, all three

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Stevens said...

Lisa - thanks - I agree, it makes sense to capitalise on what will happen anyway.

Lynda - Thanks for feedback. I think this is one of the major changes that social media has brought to the event world.

Steve - I agree, and that's what I was trying to convey by point 4. Thanks for amplifying it. My good pal Geoff Ramm is a great example.