5 Things I Learned About Being A Presenter At A Large Function
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Nov 3, 2011
On Tuesday I was one of the speakers/presenters at a local social media conference, a big deal around here. Somewhere between 300 and 400 people showed up, and overall it was a great day.
forgot to get pictures
I have to admit that I went into the thing with some preconceived notions, some of which came true, some of which didn’t. The ones that didn’t were actually pretty cool, the ones that did… well, c’est la vie.
Overall this was a first for me. Every other presentation I’ve ever done, I was an exclusive in that time period. This time I was on at the same time as, I believe, 8 other people. Even with 300 people, and it seems that number went down in the afternoon since that’s when I was on, I was given a relatively small room, which indicated that the people who put it together probably felt I wouldn’t be that big a draw. And I wondered about it myself when I saw all the other topics for the day.
Anyway, I don’t want to tell much more because I might give away one or more of the 5 things I learned about Tuesday’s presentation overall. And I’m not only talking about my presentation, but those I sat in on as well. Without further ado here we go:
1. There is a major importance in outlining a presentation. Basically yesterday I sat through 5 presentations, not counting the one I gave. Four of the five were well scripted and had a nice flow. One of them didn’t, and even though overall the guy wasn’t a bad presenter, anyone who didn’t understand anything about social media going in wouldn’t have understood a single thing when it was over, and it ran long. Outlines make sure what when you’re talking about something you’ll talk about all aspects of it before moving on to the next thing. If you don’t do that you’ll lose your audience. Lucky for me I not only knew something about the topic, but I had candy. lol
2. Even if you were never a Boy Scout, remember the golden rule; Always Be Prepared. I had emailed my presentation ahead of time so I wouldn’t have to take my new laptop with me and have to drag it around all day. About 25 minutes before I started my presentation (I actually messed up and started 10 minutes early), I went to the room I was going to be in and went searching for my presentation; it wasn’t on that laptop. I asked the guy that was handling all the presentations about it and he went to get the flash drive my presentation was on. Well, at least was supposed to be on; it wasn’t there. Luckily, something told me to bring it along with me on my own flash drive, just in case. I’d also printed out the entire presentation, just in case the power went out. Thank goodness!
3. Don’t follow the crowd because it’s the crowd. The third presentation I went to only started with 5 people. The guy giving it was a lawyer, and it was on legal issues of social media. It was fabulous; the guy may not have been a great presenter but he was a lawyer, which means he knew how to get in front of people and talk. I actually learned that if you say bad things about someone online that are true, but your intention is to harm them personally rather than complain specifically about a service they’ve done, that might be considered illegal and they can sue you, especially if they haven’t personally harmed you.
The correlation that was used was the Courtney Love case from either last year or two years ago when she went on Twitter and defamed a women, telling all her past business, just because the woman, a designer, had asked her, in private, to pay for some of the items she’d been modeling. To me that was very valuable information, something more people should have been there to hear, instead of going to some things I knew were popular, but I figured many people should have already known about. Yeah, maybe a few people didn’t know about much of it, but I knew a lot of people that came and they should have known already.
4. Never underestimate the power of your topic. I ended up being scheduled for an afternoon presentation after someone else had been moved into my morning spot because he had to catch an afternoon flight. The time I got moved to had 4 presentation I’d have loved to go to myself, with some very popular local people giving them. I talked about business blogging as a social media platform, and two other people had talked about blogging in the morning, so that and the fact that I was in a very small room at the end of a side hallway made me think I’d be lucky to get at least 5 people in the room.
Six minutes before I started the presentation (remember, I started 10 minutes early; oops), there were only 2 people in the room, and I knew one of those people. When I started the room was half full, and I felt better about things. By the time the presentation was actually supposed to start, the room was almost full, and 30 minutes in, from what I was told, there were people pulling up seats from another room and sitting outside where I was giving my presentation listening. That looked and felt great; idiot that I am, I didn’t get any pictures of it. My assumption had been that the popular people would draw all the traffic and I’d only get the hardcore learners. Since I only ended up with two people who knew who I was when I began, the topic must have been stronger than I thought, and the other people must not have been as popular as I thought they were; well, they were popular to me. And I finished right on time!
5. It’s not your friend’s fault if they don’t show up for your presentation. You know, I wondered how many people I knew as friends would even think about coming to my presentation. Only one friend showed up, but by that time I didn’t mind at all, even though I wasn’t expecting too many people to show up at the time. I realized early on that I knew people giving presentations who I wasn’t going to go see, friends or not, because they were on at the same time I wanted to learn about something else. I only got to see one person I knew beforehand give a presentation, and I think he got the luck of the draw for the day, the big room and having it filled. It was also the first presentation of the day after the keynote presentation, and as far as social media goes in this area, he’s definitely well known. You always have to be ready to follow your own path, and if you’re going to do that then you have to allow others to do it as well. Based on how it turned out, I was a pretty happy guy; I even had quotes tweeted!
As I said, I had a blast during the entire day. Of course I didn’t eat much or well, which tells me once again that I need to make sure I eat my own food before trusting others to make the proper food choices. I hope I get to do something again next year, if they do it next year. By the way, on my SEOX Blog, I’ll be breaking down my talk over a few posts starting Friday if you’re interested in what I had to say on the subject.