Are you a Conference Sleeper?

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During the last years I have visited several international conferences. Good agenda, good locations, interesting presentation titles. But what happened sometimes: after two, three slides offered by a presenter, I got tired and bored. Not necessarily, because the presenters had nothing to tell, but simply due to the fact that the type of presentation and the content shown was very egocentric. They were that much involved in their own tasks and achievements, that they forgot about their audience. They showed their expertise, but forgot to ‘sell’.

What is ‘bad’ selling?
This means it had nothing or only partly to do with my own work. I simply lost the ‘connection’ and motivation to listen. I did not feel involved and questioned or challenged from what I heard. The best outcome was often a few key messages around generic trends to take home which I could have learned also just by reading some good articles. Sometimes I started to take some notes, too, but I never looked at them later on. I did not really know what to do with them.

So, what?
I asked myself which kind of presentations really were exciting and why. This is what I have learned from really impressive speakers: they

  • explain some basics for making sure they are understood. Not everyone is an expert of each topic – although it might be somehow a daily exercise for the speaker himself.
  • manage expectations and are able to explain what is in for the audience. They do not talk about their specific results and different sub projects, but they put their learnings into the focus and share. They dedicate most of their time to ‘build bridges’ to the people in the room. They aim to start “where their audience is” and do a journey together with them to a next level.
  • show the meaning and impact their topic could have on third parties by
      sharing some thoughts on possible outcomes in other areas than just their owns
      envisioning where this approach could lead to in the next years
      listing clearly the benefits and advantages of what they present
      keeping it as simple as possible – just, because they are experts they should know how to make it understandable and attractive
      asking questions directed to the audience, make sure that they get it
      encouraging the audience to start thinking what impact it can have to them
      having fun elements integrated into their presentation
      using attractive, surprising digital or multimedia elements
  • Well, knowing that these kind of presenters are going to talk I would stay there for hours and listen.

    By the way, I think these are always relevant ingredients when two different ‘worlds’ , eg. business people / social entrepreneurs meet. Independent on locations or type of event.
    It is all about building bridges where both parties can walk on and do it together.

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