Conference Speaker Preparation

Professional conferences have an interesting business model. We charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for attendees to participate in education programming primarily delivered by their peers (who receive little to no compensation).

These peer presenters benefit with the hope of being viewed as an industry thought leader, or, as in the case with scientific and medical meetings, advancing their careers.

Most industry presenters have had little to no training in how to design and deliver a meaningful learning experience. This fact puts the core of our conference business model at risk.

One of the smartest ways of lowering this risk is for conference organizers to invest in developing their industry presenters. The ultimate goal is to help them become better designers and facilitators of learning experiences. If you are able to develop a faculty as an asset, your business model risk is substantially improved. 

The articles in this newsletter explore multiple approaches to speaker coaching and preparation. We hope you find a gem or two that can be applied to make your next conference even better.
P.S. Our thoughts and prayers go out to each of you impacted by COVID-19.  

March 2020
Video: Sarah Michel on Learner Experience Design

Imagine how you might do your job differently if your performance and compensation were evaluated based on overall session attendance and industry presenter ratings at your annual conference. While this notion may seem a bit extreme, conference education systems need increased accountability, which in turn leads to a competitive advantage.
The bread and butter of conferences is concurrent education sessions. Keynoters and main-room experiences are pivotal for bringing the community together and sharing key messaging, but attendees expect—and deserve—transformational learning. Why do we so often leave this most critical aspect of the conference in the hands of speakers who are not prepared to deliver an engaging learning experience?

You’ve been asked to moderate a panel at a conference and you think you’ve got it covered. You’ve researched the topic, connected with the panelists and compiled your questions. You’re ready to go! Or are you? Stick with the traditional format and you’re likely to bore your audience. Instead, try these 10 tips to add more pizzazz to your panel discussions.

One of the strongest intangible attributes of a healthy conference is how much sharing takes place. Too often, competition and self-interest get in the way of sharing what’s most helpful. Regardless of your industry, there are strategies conference organizers can adopt to help grow participant sharing, collaboration and co-creation, particularly in small-group settings with facilitators of learning (not speakers).