The Fall event circuit is winding down and will take a brief break as we approach the holidays. Throughout the last couple of months, I have been on a whirlwind tour of social media related events as both an attendee and a speaker. As someone who has been on both sides of the stage, I want to share what I have observed and experienced and let all of you weigh in on what you find valuable.
After all, we are at a crucial point in the social media maturity and adoption curve. Organizations are clamoring for examples of successful business function integrations and we have a responsibility to provide accurate, actionable and inspirational information to and from the people.
Here are some quick tips and resources to make sure your session rocks as a presenter or an attendee:
- Reflection: It is always great to hear from the horse’s mouth, how companies are succeeding and the growing pains that occurred to get to that state. Don’t feel pressured to talk exclusively about the various examples that have bounced around through the social media bubble. Be your own case study. Establish a rapport with attendees by demonstrating the human side of your organization.
- Assess: Do a quick gut check before launching into your presentation. Ask the attendees why they are there, what the hope to get out of your session, and their familiarity of the topics you will be discussing. Ensure your presentation is flexible and attuned for the skill level of the attendees. (Side note: if you are presenting outside of your home state/country, be prepared with examples and case studies that are familiar to your audience.)
- Excitement: No one will be pumped about your session if you are not. Great content will be lost with a monotone delivery. Share your passion with the crowd. Why are you on the stage? Then feed off their response. If you smile, listen to their needs, and excite them, the crowd will not let you down.
- Diversity: Avoid having all likeminded individuals and organization representatives, add diversity of thought and business structure (i.e., B2B, B2C, and Agency)
- Preparation: Winging it is not the best approach…not for the comfort level of the panelists or the attendees. Establish your session theme and have all panelists contribute to the content and structure of the panel. Have prepared questions and answers and discuss as a group prior to your session. Have a couple of practice sessions. Just because there is more than one speaker and, perhaps the added dimension of informality with a question/answer structure, does not mean that is an excuse for not being well rehearsed (prepared, not canned).
- Resources: As my esteemed colleague, Amber Naslund, wrote, give your presentation legs. Many presentations are extremely visual and not heavy in content. Crwodsource your panel for resources they will mention during presentation and aggregate these links/resources into one location easily accessible at the end of your session.
- Speak Up: I know, there are times when the session falls before the first cup of morning coffee or after the midday meal and you are feeling less than perky. When the presenter asks a question, answer. This is the only way you can communicate your expectations of the session. If you do not speak up, don’t expect the presenter to read your mind.
- Look Up: Social media channels have given us an avenue to share content and lessons learned with those who could not attend the session, but don’t forget you are sitting in the room. The speaker needs to know your expectations and be able to read facial expressions to gauge if the content is being received well. (Granted, I know some will argue that the presenter should pay attention to the back channel, but it is difficult to do both live.) Be courteous and let the presenter know they have your attention. If you have questions, ask. Don’t agree, that is fine too. If appropriate, express those concerns at the end of the presentation in front of the audience or one-on-one with presenter.
- Reflection: This step is a bit different than the one listed for a presenter. Hopefully, the content expressed in the presentation made you think about your past, present or future actions. Express what you have learned and share with others and the presenters after the session. How has what was communicated inspired you to think or act differently? Was the content actionable upon your return to your organization? This feedback is valuable and needed for any presenter/panel to hone their future subject and content.
Let’s work together to make sure the remainder of the Fall conference season is beneficial to all…and let’s take a step back and reflect on how we can make the 2011 season even better.
What are you looking for as a presenter, panelist or conference attendee? What conferences or unconferences have rocked for you and why?