When we think of the term “seminars” we think of multiple speaker events that run anywhere from two to four days in total length. If you are one of those speakers at an event of this type, you certainly will have a number of factors come into play that can impact how well your information is consumed at that event.
First, since you are just one speaker out of many, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle. People listen to speaker after speaker, their butts get tired, their brains turn to mush, and they start to zone out because they are worn out. How can you stand out from the crowd and really get the audience tuned into what you are trying to teach?
If it’s your event, then you have full control over the schedule and you can slot yourself in wherever you want in the schedule. You can choose to be your own emcee if you want so you’ll have more face time with the attendees, which should help build rapport with them and have them more receptive to your teaching sessions.
If you’re speaking on someone else’s stage then you’ll likely be stuck with whatever speaking slot you’re assigned. Most people dread the first speaking slots in the morning or times just before or just after lunch. People will drag in late in the morning, thinking about lunch around noon, or get the afternoon drowsies after lunch. When you’re starting out as a speaker, you’ll be assigned some of these less than ideal times because you essentially have to “pay your dues” and earn your way into the preferred speaking slots.
Having said that, how dynamic of a speaker you are will have much more of an impact on how well your information is consumed than the actual time slot in which you’re speaking. We’ve seen some speakers absolutely kill it first thing in the morning or have the audience so mesmerized they stood in line for 30 minutes to meet the speaker after the talk rather than go to lunch.
The effort to build rapport with the audience is something you should work on throughout an event, not just when you’re up on the stage. Don’t be a “hit and run” speaker who slips in a few minutes before their scheduled time, presents, and then is off and gone immediately after their presentation. Be seen throughout the event as an active participant. Meet the attendees during the breaks and over lunch or dinner. Listen to the other speakers, so the audience can see you’re an active learner yourself.
Take time before an event to find out who all the other speakers are and, as best you can, what they’ll be talking about. We’ve attended events that had no thought to curriculum or flow of the teaching at all and by the time the third speaker came to the stage to talk about copywriting the audience had totally tuned out. You may need to adjust your presentation in this scenario.
There’s a common phrase in the industry that goes like this—“The mind can only absorb what the butt can endure.” If at all possible, make sure there is a break prior to your presentation so the audience has had a chance to stretch their legs and people aren’t squirming in their seats thinking about how badly they need to pee rather than focusing on what content you have to deliver to them. An audience will lose focus and be less responsive to any of attempts at audience involvement in with no breaks or marathon sessions.
As a speaker we like the speaking approach of tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. It is important to manage audience expectations. If you’re making an offer at the end of your presentation of continuing education or something else, they shouldn’t be surprised by this. The promoter should have set expectations early in the event to help eliminate the chance of the audience feeling like they’re involved with a pitchfest.
If you’re the promoter, we feel it is wise to incorporate content only sessions into your schedule to give your audience a break from offer after offer after offer. You also need to be sure your speakers who are making an offer are delivering solid content first and foremost. In a 90 minute presentation at least 75-80 minutes should be content with only a small portion allocated to the sales side.
These are just a few tips related to helping you have an audience be more receptive to your content. For more we’d recommend you pick up a copy of Bret’s book “View from the Back: 101 Tips for Event Promoters Who Want to Dramatically Increase Back-of-the- Room Sales.” It’s available on Amazon or pick up an author signed copy at https://101TipsForEventPromoters.com.