Four Things You Can Do to Improve the Quality of Your Speakers Talks
There’s lots of interesting formats you could programme for your event. Chances are though, you will still have at least part of your day where someone is stood in front of a projector and talking over slides.
It might not be fashionable but it’s still one of the most common elements of a conference programme.
There’s a lot you can do to make sure these conference talks are top quality so your attendees and speakers get the most from them.
Book in a Run Through
The last few weeks into the run up to a conference can be hectic.
Deadlines of every shape and size are always creeping up on you. Sponsors change their plans. Venues misunderstand your needs. No event is without these niggles. You need to find time though to run through your speakers talks though.
This can be time consuming. My next big event has three tracks and over forty speakers. Co-ordinating diaries to have half hour chats with all those people is tough. It has huge value though.
It means speakers don’t leave it to the last minute. I’ve spoken at events for years. Presenters putting their deck together the night before their talk never leads to great content.
It puts my mind at rest. I can’t see all the talks on the day but knowing that my speakers are well prepped reassures me. I know we’ve got a great event on out hands.
You can also avoid little niggles like missing fonts or presentations in the wrong aspect ratio well ahead of the day.
Tell Them About Your Audience
Even keynote speakers who’s job is to deliver the same talk day in, day out love to tailor their talks to their audience. The more you can tell them about who is in the room the better prepared your speakers will be.
One of my favourite approaches is to select speakers who have attended the event. Someone who has been a member of your audience in the past is well placed to understand what a talk needs to deliver.
Give Them a Simple Mantras
It’s a daunting prospect. Getting up in front of an audience of hundreds maybe even thousand of your peers and saying “I know what I’m talking about”.
I like to help my speakers by giving them a couple of simple ideas to remember. I know if they cover these two things I’ll be happy with them.
These might not apply to your event but they work well for me.
“Our audience care more about the ‘how’ than the ‘why’”
This helps avoid too much scene setting and context. It focuses the speaker on sharing practical insights that the audience can go back their office and action.
“I’m never upset about someone who said the content was too-advanced”
The events I organise are in the digital marketing sector. One of the biggest criticism of us, and our competitors, is that the talks are too basic.
We tend to find our speakers are far too worried about being too advanced. We tell them not to worry about this and aim their material at a higher level.
Help Them Share Their Knowledge
So far I’ve talked about helping your attendees get the most from your speakers. It’s good to look at the other side of that equation. How can you help your speakers get more from the opportunity to speak to your audience.
We encourage them to write accompanying blog posts scheduled to go live minutes after their talks finish.
We let them upload their presentations to their own Slideshare accounts. We then mail round links to all attendees so they rack up their own view counts.
We also give them small hacks. Things like including the event Hashtag in the title of their blogpost. Anyone following the Hashtag away from the event can see their content.
These little pieces of advice mean their knowledge is more widely shared. It also helps us drive future sign ups for our events!
In the run up to a big conference your attention will often shift away from the content of the event to the nitty gritty of organising an event. This is inevitable.
Spending time with and attention on your speakers and their content will help you deliver better events.
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