All you need to know aboutConferences in public speaking

Closing Speaker? Make Being the Last of the Day Work for You!

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Closing Speaker? Make Being the Last of the Day Work for You!

Being the last speaker at an event can be daunting for speakers. But there are actually some big opportunities. Make being the last speaker work for you!

Some call it the ‘graveyard shift’. If you are the last speaker at the conference. It’s not a strange remark. After all. If you are the last one at the conferences, chances are the room is half empty. A part of the attendees will have gone home. Another part will be in the pub or trying to get early drinks at the networking. Those that are there are also after a long day listening to speeches.

It’s something many conference organisers struggle with. Who to put last. What to do with the networking. You want people to stick around and you want people to attend the networking as well. So actually the last session is important. It’s why some organisers have decided to end the day with a big keynote. To keep people there.

What if you are the last speaker?

So what if you are the last speaker? Is that a lost cause? Are you better off letting them get to the drinks?

On the contrary!

Being the last speaker actually, gives you big opportunities. Yes, some of the audience may have already left. But those that are still there are the ones interested.

They WANT to hear you speak. The group might be smaller than earlier, you might be able to get much more out of them! Since you are the last one, this is your chance to leave them with a big impression.

Your message is what they walk away with. Your message is the first thing they will remember the next day at the office.

To do this, though, you have to do the right things. It’s very easy to lose that audience and instead of making a good last impression. If you fail, they will never pay attention to you ever again. But if you succeed, you are the big winner.

One thing you need to remember when you are the closing speaker: you are not only delivering a talk. You are closing the conference. The way you send them away determines for a big part how they feel about the conference.

Let’s look at a few things you should and should not do when you are the last speaker.

Photo: AP

Here are the do’s and don’ts:

Don’t

  • Emphasise the empty room
  • Say ‘between you and drinks’
  • Be boring

Do:

  • Start off with a bang
  • Keep it short and crisp
  • Give them something to talk about
  • Give them something special
  • Save a story

Let’s dive into them!

Things you shouldn’t do as closing speaker

There are some things you should stay away from when you are up last. For the simple reason that if you talk about these things, you will lose the attention. Sometimes even before you start.

Don’t emphasise the empty room

You want to avoid talking about the fact that people have left. Even though you mean well. The wrong emphasis on how they stuck around will make them feel less important rather than more. It hurts both you as the audience. You are showing how insecure you are. At the same time, you can make the audience feel like they are the ‘losers’ that stayed. You are telling them it’s ok to leave and perhaps even give them the idea to go.

I’ve seen it happen more than once. Whenever speakers said this, a few more people got up and left.

Don’t say ‘between you and drinks’

“All that stands between you and drinks is me” Or a variation of the sentence. “You’ll get your coffee after you’ve listened to me”.

I can’t count the number of times I heard a speaker say this. I know I’ve said it. I now know I shouldn’t have.

You are telling them it’s you that makes they can’t have coffee or drinks now. That makes you a ‘hurdle’. They now feel they have to wait. Instead of getting excited, they will feel they have to work.

Don’t be boring

Of course, you never want to be boring. But in the case of speaking last, it’s extra important to keep their attention. And you need to grab it within the first seven minutes of the talk. In this time frame, people subconsciously decide if they like you and the talk or not. Being boring in that time frame will kill your talk.

What to do when you are the last speaker

We know it’s easy to screw up. But how to make it work for you? You need to stand out! Here are a few things you could consider and work on.

Start off with a bang

Since you know the first seven minutes are crucial, this is where you want to make the biggest impact. So instead of talking about who you are and about your business, why not start with a bang?

You can start with a bang in different ways. A bold statement for example. Something controversial. The World Champion Public Speaking 2015, Mohammed Qahtani, does this well in his winning talk. Watch his opening:

What he does here is controversial and smart. It’s not only surprising, it serves a goal as well. He’s making a point with it.

But you don’t have to be that controversial if you don’t want to. You could start with a personal story (storytelling captivates). Or you could start with a video. There are many ways to get that attention and wake them up.

Keep it short and crisp

You don’t want to be boring, so you have to make sure you are short and crisp. People are tired, so they absorb less. That means your presentation has to be to the point. And make it short(er) than you otherwise would. You want to send them away before they get tired of you.

Give them something to talk about

If you are the last speaker, you have the chance to give them something to talk about during the break or drinks. An opening like the above-mentioned one would be something they would talk about. But a great tear-jerking video also can do the trick.

Key is to find one thing that is “different”. One thing they will remember. Best would be to have a small exercise or game they can play during the break. Make sure you tell them to do it afterwards and share with you how it went. They will have another reason to talk to you.

Here’s an example when talking about persuasion:

“Try this when you are having drinks later on: nodding your head while asking a question will make the other person more inclined to agree with you. “Don’t you think X, Y, Z is right?” while nodding, most people will agree.”

Then after the session, go and watch people try this. It will be fun!

Give them something special, only for attendees

A nice way of bonding with your audience is to give them something. Give away something that is for attendees only. Tell them not to give it away to anyone else. This could be a free subscription for example. Or a code to get a free coffee at Starbucks.

You giving them something will make them first like you, second feel they ‘owe’ you. And, they will feel part of a special group. Which bonds them. Again, this will make that they will remember you best.

Don’t give it all away: “Save” a story

Finally, one that fits perfect in a last talk of the day. If you are the closing speaker, don’t give it all away. Have one story ready you can tell after the session, during drinks.

Tell people you have one more story, but you are out of time. You want them to get to the drinks. Let them know that if they want to hear the story, they should come up to you during drinks.

If they like you and have enjoyed your presentation, they will come up to you afterwards. You will then have another ‘connection’ with them. They will remember you for not only your talk but for the conversation afterwards as well.

Conclusion: bond!

So that’s it. These are things you should and should not do when you are the closing speaker at a conference. To wrap it up:

Don’t

  • Emphasise the empty room
  • Say ‘between you and drinks’
  • Be boring

Do:

  • Start off with a bang
  • Keep it short and crisp
  • Give them something to talk about
  • Give them something special
  • Save a story

All these things come together in one thing: bonding. Try to bond with your audience. That way, after your talk, you will be the one they think about and talk to!


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How to be a good event moderator

Every event needs a good event moderator. Whether it is someone who assists the speakers and the audience throughout the day, or in a session. There are a few elements that make for a good moderator.

A good moderator will make the event run smooth. 

You could get asked to be a moderator yourself. I would suggest any speaker: accept that invitation, at least once. You will learn a lot from it. Not only from what the other speakers are talking about, but from the experience. You will be a better presenter afterward.

In this article, we will dive into what it takes to be a good event moderator. At the end of the article we have a free gift for those that are going to moderate an event soon!

Let’s start with the what and how to recognise a good event moderator.

What is an (event) moderator?

An event moderator is the master of ceremony of the event. He or she is there to make sure the speakers can do the best job and the audience gets the most out of the day or session. A moderator introduces speakers. He or she also makes sure the speakers stick to the time and the moderator asks and moderate questions. He or she is the connection between the different talks.

There are two types of moderators. There are those that are the ‘host’ for an entire day, the event moderator. They are for a large part responsible for the success of a conference. There are also panel- or session moderators. They are ‘only’ responsible for a specific session. Even though it is less work, it doesn’t make them less important. They can still make or break an event.

How to be a good event moderator

Unlike what some speakers think, being a good or even great moderator isn’t easy. If you do it right, it’s a lot of work. If you want to be a good moderator at a conference or to moderate a conference session, you need to do certain things well. You need to work on these moderation skills:

  • Be prepared
  • Research
  • Get in touch with the speakers
  • Make the speakers the center of attention
  • Ask the right questions
  • Pay attention
  • Be a host

Let’s dive in! What are the most important moderation skills you need?

Remember, at the end of this article, we have a gift for you!

Be prepared

First, you want to be ready. Don’t show up without any preparation. The simplest thing here is to know the agenda. It sounds obvious, but trust me, I’ve seen them. Moderators that didn’t even know what was going to happen.

You want to know who you are dealing with. Know the speakers (by name!) and know their topics.

Research

If you aren’t knowledgeable enough on the topic, research. Do some reading. There is a ton of content available on the web on the web on any topic. It should be easy to at least get a feel for the topic. You might also want to get in touch with others who do know more about the topic. Let them inform you.

If you do know about the topic, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t research. But you want to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of knowing too much. Of taking over the presentations of the speakers.

You should research the topic on potential questions you can ask or the audience will ask. Go to Q&A websites like Quora and look on Social Media to figure out what people want to know about the topic.

Get in touch with the speakers

“Can we jump on a call to discuss your talk this Tuesday?” the moderator had e-mailed. He e-mailed all the speakers in the panel at once. As soon as I saw the e-mail, I knew this wasn’t going to end well. One by one the replies came. “I can’t do Tuesday, how about Wednesday?”, one speaker responded. Another couldn’t make it on Wednesday. The third speaker e-mailed that she wasn’t ready with the preparation of her talk yet.

In total, we ended up with a thread of about 20 e-mails. And no call.

Trying to get a call together with speakers usually won’t work. In a post on Entrepreneur, Rebecca Lieb, who has moderated tons of panels, says not to worry about a pre-call.

“Don’t break your neck getting your panelists on an advance call. It’s like herding cats. Instead, solicit input on the topic from people individually, and then send a bulletin to the entire group on the topics and questions you’ll cover.”

She’s right. It usually doesn’t work.

But you should get in touch with the speakers before the talk. But do it one at a time. First, ask them about their talk. What they want to discuss and what the most important outcomes of their talks are. Then summarise it all in one email to all the speakers. See if there is any overlap and suggest changes if needed.

Make the speakers the center of attention

As a moderator, you are not the center of attention. The speakers are. The best moderators know how to take a step back. To shut up when needed. Always be aware of the fact that you should keep what you say as short as possible. Summarise what the speakers said. Ask short questions and repeat the questions from the audience. That’s it.

It’s like I’ve said many times in my presentations when it comes to marketing: you are not the hero, you are Yoda. As a moderator, you help the speakers become the heroes.

As a good event moderator you are Yoda, not the hero
As a good event moderator, you are Yoda, not the hero

Ask the right questions

As an event moderator that knows the topic, there is the danger of asking questions that are too difficult. That could lead to a great conversation between you and a speaker. But it might also mean the audience doesn’t get it.

Do your research to find out what your audience is like. Test their knowledge level and have your questions be in line with that. Ask questions the audience would want to know, not what you want to know

Pay attention

Being an event moderator is hard work! You are the only one who knows for sure that you need to pay attention. You want to know what happens and you want to make sure you ask the right questions. For that, you need to pay attention. If you have seen the talks before, pay attention to the audience. If not, pay attention to the talk. You have to ask a question after!

Be a host

Finally. As a moderator, you are more than the person watching time. You are the person in charge of the session. That means the people in the room are your guests. And you want to make your guests happy. This is much like hospitality. The customer is king, so you treat him well. In this case, the audience is your customer.

That’s why you want to be the perfect host. Be attentive. Know who’s in front of you. And make sure they have a great time.

To conclude

Being a good event moderator isn’t easy. Even though many think they can ‘wing’ it, the good ones spend a lot of time preparing. But it’s worth it. In the end, the audience will go away with a lot more than if the moderator doesn’t do a good job.

To answer the question “how to be a good moderator at a conference”: you need to have the right moderation skills. But most important: you need to make it work.

A moderator is the glue that keeps it together. And remember: you are Yoda.

The Moderator Checklist

Because we know moderating is hard work, we’ve created a checklist for you. This checklist will help you to remember everything you need to do at an event. It’s the most complete checklist you will find on the web!
And for you,  we have a big discount, instead of the regular $20, you now get it for FREE!!!


Marcus Tandler about handling anxiety, rehearsing, Slidestorms and more!

At The Inbounder in Madrid, Bas van den Beld spoke to Marcus Tandler about his experiences as a speaker and any tips he has for other (new) speakers).

We discussed several topics: from Google to Slidestorms (301 slides in 30 minutes!), rehearsing, anxiety, tactics and much more!

Here’s the full video. See a breakdown of the video below!

How Marcus didn’t believe Google would make it big

When Marcus Tandler started speaking in public in 1999, he wasn’t so sure Google would make it. In fact, he didn’t believe it at all when a student in his workshop told him.

Listen to Marcus anecdote about one of his first talks ever:

Why Marcus uses 301 slides for 30 minutes on stage

In the interview we had with Marcus Tandler, we asked him why he has this method of presenting. His answer is both surprising as obvious.

Listen to Marcus talk about the number of slides:

With Slidestorms you have to be sure

If you use Slidestorms like Marcus does you need to be sure of what you say. That means a lot of rehearsal.

Listen to the specific item here:

How long it takes to prepare for a Slidestorm

When Marcus uses a Slidestorm as a presentation format, he needs to prepare. How much? He’ll tell you in this video!

Listen to the specific item here:

Marcus misses his own talks and uses a smiley face!

When Marcus goes on stage, he is nervous. He tries to make himself calm and uses a smiley for that. If it works? He’ll tell you in this video!

Listen to the specific item here:

Prepare your talk as if it’s a Hollywood script

When preparing for a talk, structuring a talk in the right way is important. You need to bring your audience with you.

When Marcus prepares a presentation, he looks at it as if it’s a movie script. In this video, he explains more.

Listen to the full item here:

How your grandma can help you become a great speaker

How barcamps, smaller conferences, your wife or your grandma can help you become a great speaker? They give you experience. As a speaker starting out, you should go to the smaller events and just do it. Get on stage and talk!

And when practicing, practice in front of your wife, your mom or your grandma. Because as Marcus says, if they understand, you do fine!

Listen to the full item here:

About Marcus Tandler:

Marcus calls himself a “search geek and absolutely in love with SEO”. He is known within the search industry by the Twitter handle “Mediadonis”. Many know him as a great speaker and organiser of SEOktoberfest.

Marcus is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at Ryte.com – a SaaS Tech-StartUp with the mission to help webmasters make better websites.

More about Marcus:

His personal website
Facebook
YouTube
Linkedin
Twitter: @mediadonis


Purna Virji (Bing): Speaker advise about Nerves, Structure and Preparation

In the past few weeks, you have seen parts of the interview with Purna Virji being published on our YouTube channel and through our social channels. Today, you can watch the entire interview with Purna!

Learning from Purna

Public speaking for some speakers seems to be easy. They look confident on stage. They have a great story and a lot of knowledge. It seems they have no problem being on stage. Speaking for them seems to come naturally.

Often appearances are deceiving. These speakers work hard to get a presence on stage that feels so natural. And they too get nervous.

As a speaker, it is great to learn from other experienced speakers. To learn how they handle nerves. To learn how they first got on stage. In a series of interviews, we talk to these experienced speakers. To get insights from them that help you, as someone who wants to be a better speaker.

In this series, we spoke to Purna Virji (Bing), Marcus Tandler (Ryte), Cindy Krum (Mobilemoxie) and Melanie Deziel (consultant, former NYT).

In the interview with Purna, we talked about a lot of different things related to public speaking.

Purna has been speaking in public since early 2012. She still loves being on stage. Actually, the more she does it, the more she loves it!

Preparing for a presentation

Purna spends a lot of time preparing for a presentation. Including design and everything around a presentation, she spends about 100 hours preparing for a one-hour presentation!

She will start by thinking about which issues the audience is facing. What can she give them which is of most help? The key thing is, how can she add the most value. She will then go and do research about what is available and what is out there.

Her next step is to create an outline in Word. She will fill that in, almost like she is writing an article. In the end, she will convert it to Powerpoint.

Rehearsing for a talk

Purna rehearses a lot for a presentation. She likes to get in at least three rehearsals for a talk. She finds that helps to get the talk to stick in her head and to know the flow.

Purna finds that if she hasn’t rehearsed enough, she will stumble and she will find herself say “uhm” too much. Rehearsal makes that her talks sound better!

Purna has an interesting approach to rehearsing. She doesn’t rehearse in front of a mirror. She rehearses to the wall. After all, the wall is a captive audience and never has a bad thing to say! She practices on her own, in for example her hotel room or her office.

The first rehearsal she does out loud. She then can adjust content and flow. And she knows how her time is! Purna can than adjust her slides accordingly.

Nerves

Why Purna wanted to go into public speaking in the first place, is because she found it to be absolutely terrifying! She thought she would ‘die’ when she would get on stage. She hated it more than bugs or spiders. She wanted to conquer that fear.

For the first two or three years, she was still terrified. But the more she did it, the fear goes away.

Purna believes the fear isn’t a bad thing. The fear comes from caring how the audience perceives the talk and how they get value. Which is good.

To get rid of the nerves, she does things like deep breathing. She tries to change the nerves into excitement. She feels much more comfortable.

Advice

Purna’s advice for speakers who are just starting is to ‘just do it!’ If you give yourself time to think about it, you give yourself time to talk yourself out of it. If you feel there is something you have had a success in. If you have something you are proud of, know that you have value to add! Just go ahead and pitch!

Purna wants you to just go ahead and do it. The more diverse voices there are in this industry, the more the industry as a whole will benefit.

Want more advice from experience speakers? Subscribe to our YouTube channel to find more!


How to get people to come up to you after your talk

There are speakers who draw great crowds. Not only during their session, but after as well. People come up to them, ask them questions, take pictures and often enough, become clients.

How do they do that? Of course, with a good presentation. But there is a way to get that attention as well. Here’s how…

Full Transcript:

Hey! How are you doing? Sometimes, when you’re preparing for a presentation, you will find that you have too much material. You just can’t put it all into your presentation and that
sometimes… It sucks, it’s not nice… But it might be something that you can use for your own benefit. Let me tell you why.

Sometimes you want people to come up to you after your talk. You want them to get engaged with you during the breaks. Now, the extra material that you can’t put into your presentation, might actually be something that can help you trigger to get people to come up to you after your talk.

Imagine that at the end of your talk you are almost done and you explain to the audience that you may have a lot more stories about a certain topic. You go like “oh I wish I could tell this now but we don’t have the time for that. But you know what, if you really want to hear the story come up to me afterward and I’ll tell you the story.”

Chances are people will come up to you to hear that last bit, that last story that you couldn’t tell in your presentation. So don’t just rule out the extra information the extra stuff that you have prepared. Use it for your own benefit. Use it after your talk.


5 items every speaker needs to bring to a conference or workshop

If you are doing talks or workshops, you need to come prepared. If you show up with only your computer, chances are something goes wrong. A well-prepared speaker brings his own items.

Let’s take a look at five items every speaker needs to bring to a conference or workshop to make sure your session goes as planned.


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How Public Speaking can help your Personal Brand

Public Speaking. Is it worth it? Does it matter? Why is it important for you, or for your business? In this article here, I talked about the importance of public speaking for your business. It definitely can make a difference to your business!

But what about your personal brand. How does personal speaking help there? Is it worth investing time to become a great speaker?

Here are 6 reasons:

  1. It builds confidence
  2. You get to present your ideas to a group of people
  3. Your ideas will get more traction and have more impact
  4. It gets you better jobs
  5. You can demonstrate your knowledge
  6. You will stand out: people will remember you

The obvious answer here is ‘yes’. But why the ‘yes’? Let’s dive into that.

1 It builds confidence

For some people public speaking is terrifying. The thought of getting on that stage and speaking to a group of people can make some people physically ill. Yet when they do it, that feeling of illness turns into a feeling of invincibility. The actual speaking can be the drug that not just cures the nerves, it creates an addiction as well.

2 You get to present your ideas to a group of people

You are someone with an idea. With a plan. And you want to make sure more people ‘get’ that idea. What better place than a conference to start spreading that idea? Yes, you can write about it, but being in a room with sometimes hundreds of people listening to your story: what better way to present your ideas is there? You have direct influence and you can see them in the eyes while you talk to them.

3 Your ideas will get more traction and have more impact

If you are on stage, chances are your ideas will get more traction. You are showing people what your ideas mean and you are telling them in person. This is powerful. More powerful than written language. This means your ideas will likely not just travel further, it will have more impact. Because if those you reach while talking share, they will share with passion.

4 It gets you better jobs

When you are speaking, chances are potential employers will see you talk. And get impressed! Which will open up doors on the job front. You will be more visible, thus more trustworthy and more wanted! From being the next resume that ends up at the bottom of the stack, you become the bookmarked name they want for the job.

5 You can demonstrate your knowledge

If you are building your brand, or even when you are ‘just’ working for a boss, showing what you know is important. It builds trust. It builds Thought Leadership. And it gets you business. Being on a stage makes that you can demonstrate the knowledge that brings you all that.

6 You will stand out: people will remember you

Finally, in a world where information is everywhere, it is getting harder to stand out every day. Writing articles means you are one of the many. When you are at a conference, on a stage, people will see YOU. And when you deliver the right speech, they will remember you better.

All these are reasons for you to get on that stage and speak! And if it’s not for your personal brand, it might be for your business. Is there any reason you shouldn’t get on stage? Let me know and we’ll chat about it!


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Why Public Speaking at Events Matters for Your Company

Should you or shouldn’t you be doing public speaking? When you have been attending events, you might have thought “why do these speakers want to be on stage? What’s in it for them?” You could be wondering what makes them do it. But you could also be wondering if you should go on yourself.

Is it worth speaking at conferences? Either for your own brand or for your company? Does it matter? As a speaker myself, who loves to be on stage, it’s easy to say “yes”. Of course, it’s worth it! And it’s fun as well! But like with many things, you have to back that up. In what way is it worth speaking at conferences?

In two posts I’d like to highlight the benefits of speaking. Both for you as well as for your company. In this post, we talk about the company, in another post here, we talk about the personal benefits of speaking.

Why is public speaking important for your company?

At a conference you can find four types of speakers:

  • The independent speakers;
  • The speakers who work for brands;
  • The speakers from vendors;
  • The speakers from agencies.

Why would brands, vendors or agencies take the time to go to conferences and speak? What is the benefit of public speaking for them? They don’t get paid for it, so there must be something else that makes it worth it. There are benefits of speaking at conferences for businesses. But what are they?

If you fit into one of these categories, here are some reasons how you could benefit from speaking in public.

1. It gets you more sales

Public speaking will get you leads
Public speaking will get you leads

The main reason why, especially, agencies and vendors send staff to speak at events is sales. They are hoping to get business out of the event. By speaking they want to attract the attention of possible clients.

When agencies or vendors are pitching their products or services, this backfires. Pitching makes for a bad experience for the attendees. With the consequence that they won’t buy.

More often you do see businesses that ‘get it’. They tell a story, show their brand and based on that, get more business.

When they are on stage they talk about past cases and experiences. With that showing potential clients how knowledgeable they are. At networking opportunities (breaks, drinks, and dinners) they will then make the connection. That is where they can ‘pitch’.

Though most companies won’t get a lot of direct sales from speaking at events, it does set them up for sales. So when sales matters to you, public speaking matters to you.

2. You can showcase thought leadership

Public speaking is an effective way of getting your message across. It can help you to show thought leadership

Your company exists for a reason. That means you have a ‘message’. A message that goes beyond selling your product. It’s your reason for existence. Spreading this message can be part of the marketing strategy. To try and become a thought leader in your industry is one of the tactics.

What better way to get a message across, than speaking at conferences. You reach people who go to the event as well as those who read about it on blogs.

3. They will write about you: free publicity!

Speaking at events can be a great way of getting free publicity. As said, often there are bloggers at conferences. They report on the talks. And they spread what they heard. Get them to write about your talk, and there is your free publicity!

Often the free publicity doesn’t only come from the bloggers. Organisers want to get as many people as possible in the room. To get that, they will create publicity as well. Make sure you are a part of that! Always agree to get interviewed. Write a guest post. Be part of it!

4. You can make your audience think about topics

Public speaking opportunities make that you can make your audience think about specific topics. People need a reason to buy. That means they need to first see a ‘problem’.

If the audience doesn’t see not buying your products or services as a problem, you won’t sell much. To make them aware of that problem, you need to show them that problem. Whether it is at a conference or in a pitch, you need to be able to tell the right story. Get them to see a problem and see that you are the solution to that problem.

Public speaking is a great way of getting people to think about topics. Topics that further on in the consumer journey might lead to people looking for your product.

5. Getting access to sources of financing

Public speaking is a great way of getting the attention of those that can help your business further. These can be investors, your first customers or banks. Once they see you on stage, showing your knowledge, they start to trust you. With the right story, the right financier will think their money is in the right place with you.

So if your company matters to you. You should care about public speaking. Because yes, public speaking matters today. And if you also think it’s important, you better speak up…


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Is Public Speaking Making or Costing you Money?

On my holiday in Thailand, I was thinking about something. Something I’ve seen way too many times in the past 10 years. I was thinking about businesses struggling to make money out of conference speaking.

After my holiday I would be speaking at Brighton SEO. It’s a great conference. I was looking forward to being there. It’s a place to see friends, to meet new people and a place to do what I love most: speaking.

For many businesses, it’s much more than that. For them, it’s a place to connect to potential clients and to showcase themselves. When conference season starts, you know that businesses get nervous again about the conferences.

Of course, they want to make the most out of it! For me, it’s a lot simpler. I’m not looking for new clients at conferences. For them, it sometimes is a matter of life or death. They need to get clients from a conference to make it worth it.

So it’s understandable they want to be at their best at conferences. Either by sponsoring, networking and often speaking as well.

Speaking is the most direct way to get visibility. And leads. If they see you speaking on stage, it’s much easier to come up to you. And you can showcase your knowledge. It’s a win-win situation.

In the ideal scenario, a business has one or more of its employees speaking at a conference. They speak about case studies and teach the audience. After the conference, the leads will come pouring in. Because they made a big impact.

As with ideal scenarios, this hardly ever happens. I’ve seen from up close that businesses actually struggle with this. And I’ve seen many in all the years that I’ve been speaking around the world.

More than often you can hear businesses talk about if a conference ‘was worth it’. And most of the time the answer is “no”.

Why is that?

There are several reasons why conference speaking isn’t ‘worth it’ for many businesses. Sometimes they are targeting the wrong audience. Sometimes they are too sales driven. Sometimes it’s just not their day.

A lot of the times, it has to do with the speakers.

Don’t get me wrong. The speakers work hard for it. They make an effort to create great slide decks. To tell a story.

Yet so many speakers can’t deliver. They don’t connect to the audience the way they could. They lack experience, confidence or just that little bit of professionalism.

And you can’t blame them. It’s not their job. At least, not the main part of their job. Even though it’s part of their job. Often the speakers are practitioners sharing their experience.

This would make for an ideal talk. Because it’s always better to hear from those actually doing the work. The problem is that being a practitioner is one thing. Getting the message across is a completely different story.

If you are a great footballer, it doesn’t mean you will make a great coach.

But we would like the practitioners to get that message across, wouldn’t we? Because of that, it would be the ideal mix.

So why aren’t we helping them?

Often inside agencies, vendors, brands, a list compiled. On this list are the events where the company should be present and speaking. It’s one of the reasons we have created our events list. To help businesses find the right events. When they have the list of events, they add names to each conference. Names of employees who will be trying to get to speak there. Those people get the assignment. But they are lucky if they get time to prepare their talks. Usually, they expect them to ‘just do it’. Or at least with a short amount of preparation time.

Hardly ever you hear about a company actually helping their practitioners become better speakers. Better at delivering the story they build. Better at presenting.

Why? It’s just plain stupid they don’t. Because now chances are the talks will not get the attention they deserve. The speakers will work hard, but won’t have the result for it. All they get is the applause after a talk. But actually ROI, there isn’t one.

If you think a bit more about this you realise something. It is not just at conferences where this is costing the businesses money. It is costing a business money elsewhere as well.

How is a pitch decided for example? A big part of the decision is based on how the company presents themselves. If they have bad speakers presenting the pitch, they are less likely to win. Imagine how much money gets lost there…

Why do businesses not care? Why aren’t they spending time and effort on this? It could make such a big difference in the outcome of a conference. They could actually make a LOT of money on

Why aren’t they spending time and effort on this? It could make such a big difference in the outcome of a conference. They could actually make a LOT of money on conferences. If they would only care.

Start helping your staff become better speakers for crying out loud!!!!

Or do they care?

Maybe they do care. Maybe they just don’t know how. Maybe it just takes away too much ‘work time’ from those within the business to help the speakers. Maybe managers want to focus their efforts somewhere else.

Or maybe they lack the knowledge themselves.

During my holiday I was thinking about this problem. So many times I’ve wondered what on earth those businesses were thinking.

And I realised it was just that: time and knowledge.

They don’t know how and they don’t have the time to put the preparation into it. So they just let it slide. And hope for the one employee that is a natural at speaking.

Are you going to help your staff?

With a little bit of effort, a business can help their speakers become better. And can help them get actual ROI from talks.

What about your business? Are you helping your staff become better? Do you train them?

If you are not, you have a choice.

Do you choose the path of least resistance? Stick with the way of working you have been doing for so long? Are you willing to keep losing money on conferences? Or are you one of those companies that dare to help their staff become better at speaking? One that will make a difference?

Let me know!


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