How to make speakers love your conferences, events and you!
You want a good, funny, competent, low maintenance speaker for your event?
But is your event a good event for your speakers? And are you a good event organiser for speakers?
So, you meant to spend more time researching, you really wanted to get coaching, you intended to get input from friend or colleagues. But you didn’t. And now you are in trouble. The speech you have to give is this weekend, tomorrow, this evening or, worst case, in 10 minutes time!
For many people, public speaking is not easy. For some people, it is simply terrifying. Speaking in front a large crowd, particularly of your peers, has been likened to the trauma of buying a house, going through a divorce or going to the dentist. Of course, it is far worse when your career depends on it and the stakes are high.
He did it. He actually did it. Deputy Editor of The Times. Friend, ally and Lieutenant to David Cameron on so many issues. Reforming Minister within a Cameron government. And, stealing shamelessly from Andrew Neil, he has decided to go out on a limb and put his country first.
This is one of my favourite TED style talks. For a few reasons. Firstly, how I first saw it. A guy who had worked on and off for me for a few years sent the clip to me via Facebook with the message “This woman reminds me of you.” I watched it and had to dry my eyes. Who would not want to be compared to this woman?
Technology is the lazy presenter’s crutch. Good presenters are able to survive and win even when technology goes AWOL. When I was A Conservative Party Association Chairman I attended a National Convention meeting of the great, the good and the pompous at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool. Stephen Gilbert, who now works in No. 10 and who probably hasn’t had a holiday since May 5 2010, was set to give a presentation in huge theatre to an audience of around 1000 “senior party activists” – an audience not famous for being forgiving or understanding.
He was presenting data, polling, statistics and strategy. Powerpoint was poised to help and underpin his presentation. I was quite far back in this huge room full of harumph-ready impatience so I couldn’t see whether the guilty piece of technology was the projector or the laptop. But something failed, the title slide disappeared and Stephen was in the middle of the stage in front of an audience of 1000 diverging opinions. He was armed with a handful of papers.
He didn’t skip a (visible) beat. He didn’t lean over the laptop and mutter. He didn’t apologise for the problem or make a joke about technology. Hardly appearing to ever refer to his notes he started his presentation with just his voice and what was in his head. He spoke fluently and at length to the audience – brushing off the technology betrayal with impressive nonchalance. After the presentation everybody was speaking about what he wanted them to speak about – the technology failure was forgotten. Perfect result.
I have never spoken to him about it. But he survived and won because he knew his stuff backwards. Most presenters would have crashed and burned – and then blamed or tried to kill the IT guy instead of blaming themselves for lack of preparation.
Stephen knew his message, the data, the strategy, the polls. You could almost argue that he was more fluent without the Powerpoint as some visual aids confuse rather than aid.
This video is quite fun – it is a Fox News weather man living the advice of “just keep going and don’t panic when things go wrong.”
P.S. I wrote for @CityAM on which visual aids you could, or should, use in speeches and presentation. You can read the article here.