Industry conferences can be so painful. It’s hard to listen to back-to-back break-out sessions without your mind overflowing. Once my brain is full (which doesn’t take much), I can hardly tolerate another 30 slide, text-heavy Power Point that forgets to take the audience into account. By the end of the first day, audiences are begging for a conference speaker who is clear, entertaining, and relevant.
Here is the first of five tips that will help you be a better conference speaker:
Tip #1: Find the exciting part and start there.
Megan was speaking in Austin to 150 fresh-out-of-college interns on corporate giving. Her goal was to inspire them to begin a life-long habit of donating time and money to charities that the corporation supported. What an opportunity! She could have started this way:
“How many of you bought a Starbucks coffee on the way into the conference today? Anyone buy a venti? If you did, you probably spent around $4.
“Now, imagine if your venti coffee was brewed with dirty water… full of water-borne disease that would make you and your family sick. You wouldn’t stand for that! You’d insist on clean water, wouldn’t you?
“Sadly, clean water is in short supply in poor urban centers throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Many children spend hours a day walking to dirty lakes and pools to fill buckets full of bacteria-infested water so that the family will have something to drink.
“Did you know that for $23 (about a week’s worth of daily ventis) that you could supply clean water to a person there for a year? That’s exactly what our company does. In fact, we donated $23,000 last year to bring an entire town clean water for their lifetimes.”
Want to know how the speaker opened instead?
“Our corporate giving division falls under the corporate responsibility group and has 5 full-time team members. We can give money to any organization that has an IRS designation of a 501(c)(3). Any proposal for our company to give less than $2,500 to an organization does not need board approval….”
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (the man beside me literally fell asleep with his chin in his hand… and we were in the front row!)
The moral of the story? Find the compelling part of your content. Tell us some stories! Share a captivating case study! Hook us by getting personal: tell how a client successfully used your product or service, or how she didn’t and found herself in a quandary. Shock us with a statistic. Tell us how you converted someone from a non-believer in your company to a believer. Prove your content is important…
THEN, we will want to know HOW.
THEN, you have earned the right to move into the more mundane details.
Next week- Cause a Stampede: How to Write Conference Session Title that Will Create a Frenzy