Started by Andy, October 21, 2008, 07:44:39 AM

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I. No Pitching
Conferences are for education, not promotion. The audience is paying with money and minutes to get your information and perspectives. Don't cheat them by pitching your product, giving a commercial spiel, promoting your company or trashing your competition. The biggest complaint we get is that a speaker spent the whole session hawking his wares instead of educating his audience. If you pitch, you're out. Your audience will probably walk out on you, and they'll tell all their friends what a waste your session was. You won't be asked to speak at future conferences and your company will go to the bottom of the proposal list for the next show. Remember that only about 15% of the people who ask to speak at our events are accepted, so you're part of a very special group of business educators.

II. Read the Brochure
Give the seminar that people came to see. Too many speakers spew canned material that doesn't fit the context. The conference brochure is your contract with the audience; it's your responsibility to deliver.

III. Be On Time
It's most important to start on time, but plan your presentation so that every important point gets the appropriate stagetime before you end -- on time. Don't spend the first 45 minutes on intro fluff and then cram all the important ideas into the last 15.

IV. Be Readable
Make sure your slides and handouts are legible to everyone. You know you've lost when you have to say: "I know you can't read this slide, but there's some very important information here."

V. Keep the Energy Up
Shout, move around, gesticulate ... do what you have to do to keep the energy in the room up. If you're funny, tell some jokes. If you're angry, yell. If you're sleepy, mumbling or not very interested, stay home.

VI. Build a Story
Interesting seminars are a series of problems and solutions, ups and downs that keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Beginners often tip their hand early and are stuck with repeating their key points over and over to fill the hour.

VII. Be Clear and Avoid Internet Cliches

Don't assume everybody knows what you know. If you give an acronym, immediately follow-up with the definition. If you mention a person, give title and affiliation. Keep the inside jokes and smirking sub references to a minimum, and keep away from hoary canards like "Content [or community, commerce, context, etc] is king," "Nobody's making money on the Internet" and any variation on "If you build it, they will come."

VIII. Get Out of the Room
Conference rooms are ugly places, and great speakers project the audience's attention into the outside world with anecdotes, slides, photos and videos that make the ideas and stories more tangible than the gray surroundings.

IX. Dress Nice
Make the experience special ... always dress better than your audience. Have your shoes shined, your hair cut and your best foot forward. Show that you care about being on stage and making the day memorable.

X. Follow Up
Leave behind a paper handout or -- better yet -- a Web page link so that people can contact you afterward. Make the link live so that there's a reason for people to click back again. A successful presentation is only the beginning of your relationship with the audience.