How many presenters do you stop listening to some 30 seconds after they start talking, certain that you won’t be missing out on anything important? On the other hand, when was the last conference where you sat without moving a muscle, soaking in the words of the speaker, your phone or tablet not lighting up every 10 seconds or so? And when did this happen with the majority of talks at an event you attended?
What if you’re the organizer – can you get your speakers ready, whether you’ve got two months, two weeks or two days to prepare them?
I’ve had the privilege of working individually with around 50 speakers in six TEDx conferences in Belgrade so far, as well as with dozens of presenters for various other events. This intensive one-on-one work has given me a rather unique experience in one of the most challenging, yet easily overlooked parts of any such event – how to get a speaker to deliver their very best, how to make sure they truly connect with the audience and passionately share the essence of their idea.
I’d like to write down these experiences and lessons learned, in the hope that it will help someone organizing a TEDx or similar event when they approach this stage of preparation. I’ll be looking at both the highs and lows, from the most dedicated of speakers who were a joy to work with to those who I had to resist strangling as they arrogantly and obliviously repeated the same mistakes over and over. Though names will likely be omitted, particularly for the latter group, I can now say that I am sincerely thankful to all of them for what they’ve taught me.
So, how do you explain to your very busy speakers why it’s important to prepare? What if they’re stuck and can’t seem to figure out what they want to talk about? What if the very famous person taking part in your conference just confided that they’ve never actually given a speech in public? How do you deal with a speaker who is overly enthusiastic/arrogant/forgetful/irresponsible/scared/doubtful/sedated?
I’ll be writing the first post soon. Meanwhile, I very much appreciate all of your questions and suggestions on what to write about – I have a lot of material on my mind, but I’m certain I’ll overlook something that might seem obvious, but is in fact a very important point.