Every speaker is different.
Some conference speakers are charismatic, some are scared, some are funny, some are frantic. As conference organizers, it is up to us to know and believe that any type of presenter can be successful, even the poor soul that is so afraid they are shaking in their boots.
What separates a successful conference presentation from a dud? TED Conferences know. They do. Creating successful presentations is why they are the most respected conference series on the planet. TED knows that what makes something a hit with their audience is the idea, not necessarily the presenter or the presentation. Success comes from the spark that goes from the stage to the seat.
As a conference organizer, it is up to you to fan the flames so that the spark has a chance to make the leap.
Making a speaker understand their importance.
Not too long ago, i3 Events was the conference planning team for an association event in Portland, Oregon. One of the speakers was the absolute best in her field. She was one of those people with an amazing mind and a passion that is infectious. Her problem was that she had never set foot on a stage, had never given a presentation, and was scared to death. She was literally throwing up the day before her talk. The day before…
The client thought she was doomed and to be honest, I was having some doubts.
Like every conference we produce, we do walk-throughs and rehearsals so that the speakers are comfortable with the setup and the AV team is ready. The morning of her session, she and I met in the ballroom and she was honest enough to tell me how scared she was and I simply said this… The audience does not care if you are scared, they are here to learn from the best and that happens to be you. They read your book, they watch your videos, and now they are here to see you in person because they love what you are doing for the industry. Just get up there and do your best. It will be great!
Sure. Sounds good. We all know that my little pep talk did nothing for her, it did not calm her nerves, and it certainly did not stop her from losing her lunch in a public restroom. What my little RA-RA session did do, however, was give her the push she needed to actually get up on the stage. I fanned the flames so that the spark could make the jump. Something magic happened, She kicked ass.
We all know that stage fright tends to evaporate about a minute in.
Once she got up on stage, it started awful. She was shaky, she was sweating, and I thought she would barf all over her loafers. To her credit, she struggled through her first couple of introduction slides but once she hit the part of the presentation that was her expertise, what she knew in her soul, and what was imprinted in her DNA, things began to change. The passion for her subject kicked in and completely took over. From the AV table, I watched the idea make the jump.
In the end, I think that she forgot that there was a stage to be frightened of and the audience forgot they were at a conference.
If you, as a conference organizer, make a conscious choice to select speakers that have passion and knowledge then each person that takes the stage at your conference or meeting has the power to be amazing which will make your conference successful.
Ignite the idea. That is what my speaker did and that is what TED Conferences do. They know that that the spark jumping from person to person is what creates the magic that is a TED Talk and anyone can replicate the formula. TED’s success has nothing to do with how the conference looks or how cool their music is… It is the passion and knowledge of the presenters.
This simple, yet effective video from Chris Anderson, TED Curator, shares the four ways that presenters can really bring their point home with the people in the audience to create a dynamic experience for attendees.
Share this video with your speakers…please… the audience will thank you.