03 March 2011

Advice for Convergence Speakers

I’m going to indulge some thoughts here. I’ve had a couple of good years as a speaker at Convergence. In 2009 I had the highest rated session. In 2010 I was the highest rated speaker so I’m not simply popping off.

It’s not hard to be a good speaker, but it does take work so I thought that with six weeks to go I would offer a little advice for speakers.

  1. Practice. Practice standing up, giving your presentation. Don’t skimp on this. Yes, you’ll feel dumb. You’ll feel dumber with 100 people in a room if you don’t practice. Punish your kids or your dog, but not your spouse, by making them listen. I actually made listening to my presentation a punishment for son once.He learned his lesson and I got a great presentation.

    Practice with your PC on 1024 x 768 resolution. Many projectors are older and can’t handle higher resolutions.
  2. Read. Pick up Scott Berkun’s Confessions of a Public Speaker. It’s a phenomenal read.
  3. Push Yourself. If you do nothing else, sign up for the one on one speaker training at Convergence. It’s you and a speaker coach in a presentation room with a microphone, a projector and your presentation. You start, they stop and correct. You continue, they help you adjust. Best of all, it’s free. You are cheating yourself and your audience if you don’t participate in this.
  4. Connect. Don’t hang out on the podium before your presentation. Setup and test your stuff early then get out into the audience. Talk to folks, thank them for coming, find out how Convergence is going. Goodwill = Good Ratings
  5. Be Passionate. If you’re not passionate about your topic don’t speak. Everyone wants you to knock it out of the park. They don’t want you to suck. Don’t apologize for anything. When something crashes smile, restart and go on. It’s ok to have a little fun and show a little ego. You are the person on stage after all.

    I like to do fast presentations because they force people to try to keep up. They also up the energy in the room. I’ve sat through too many boring presentations. I refuse to contribute to the problem.