Supporting conference speakers

I took to the stage as part of the content, curated by Julius Solaris and his team at Event Manager Blog at IBTM in Barcelona, in December. Julius had spoken for me before, so it was great to be able to return the favour. I actually spoke twice! So I think it’s back to Julius to do me a turn?

Supporting conference speakers

Julius asked me to do a session that would help planners better understand and better support their speakers. As you would expect from the Editor of a very successful blog, Julius understands the importance of content. A conference needs great content as much as a blog does.

So it was with pleasure that I took up his challenge and presented. Now every speaking slot has its own particular challenge, but this one had the added spice of delivering an elongated (1 min on each slide) Pecha Kucha (click on the link if you want to know more about this innovative format) style presentation.

The session was recorded live and it would be great if you could take 20mins (no more no less!) and watch my session. I’ve added the slides below as an aid to the session as well as, I hope, a little teaser!

William Thomson's session at IBTM in December.

William Thomson’s session at IBTM in December.

My five main points (which, when you watch the session you will see why that’s the maximum number of points any session should aim for) are:

  1. EVERY single speaker (almost without exception) needs the support of the conference organiser.
  2. The conference organiser impacts the content as much as the speaker.
  3. As the conference organiser it is YOUR event and you are in charge, so you have to demand brilliant content.
  4. There’s a quid pro quo. You have to give something in return to get brilliant content.
  5. The conference organiser has a PROACTIVE role to help a speaker’s session to be memorable.

You get back the time, resources and effort you invest in a speaker

So, if I had to pick the most important of my five points it would be the fourth one: great content is really helped by some give and take on both sides. And Julius’s team demonstrated that wonderfully: treat a speaker with simple common courtesy, and not only will they deliver better content, but they will be delighted to speak for you again.

Not only did Julius curate a great conference, but he treated the speakers will the level of support that would make most of the events I’ve spoken at blush. Each speaker was expertly introduced and thanked after their session. They were thanked on a few social media platforms, and two days later we all received a thank you note and a link to the recording of our session. Brilliant eh! In contrast, I spoke an event in the middle of November and to date (despite sending two emails to ask for my feedback and travel expenses to be reimbursed, never mind a thanks for speaking) I haven’t had a single note.

There was some other great support for speakers too! For the technology related sessions he created a character and asked all of the tech companies to address how they would solve the characters’ problems. This was a brilliant way to structure the content and help the tech companies to focus on their products as a solution! A really great idea.

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2 comments

  • Julius December 7, 2016   Reply →

    William

    I loved your session and it was an honor to have you. I will speak at all your events, just ask!

  • Venue Reservations January 24, 2017   Reply →

    The Pecha Kucha format for conferences is gaining more and more attention, we event notices that during small industry conferences we help to hire venues for, speakers find it extremely helpful in order to cut down on the number of points they make, and at the same time engage audience more, entice them more to explore the topic more on their own, rather than giving a set of answers that no one will have the time to write down anyway.. But we make sure that during the conference there are additional print outs, if speakers want to provide them, with the main points outlined on one page so the attendees can go back to them. We also include a link to the resources, if the slides are posted somewhere online, so that with no hassle everyone can get back to the topic after the conference.
    Some good points regarding the role of someone external overseeing the preparations for a conference, thank you for putting these together.

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