Monday, April 25, 2016

5 Ways to Pay Attention and Focus on the Needs of Your Audience at Events

Speakers Serve AudienceMeeting planners will tell you there are some speakers they love working with … probably because they become partners at making the event a huge success by paying attention, first to the needs of the audience.


The partnership between speakers and meeting planners is vital for an exceptional audience experience and this goes beyond the speaker just showing up and being great on stage. Paying attention to details from the initial call through each planning call will pay big dividends in the meeting success.


Great speakers pay attention to details about the audience and their needs to tailor their presentation to serve the audience and be memorable, repeatable and re-bookable. Meeting planners pay attention to the overall goals of the meeting audience and they’re able to communicate these important details to all who need them.


Here are 5 ways to pay closer attention in the work you do so the audience has the best experience:


  1. Speakers don’t be divas – many years ago I witnessed a speaker demand the meeting planner run to the pharmacy to get medication for a sore throat – wow! Speakers need to be self-sufficient and pay attention to the items they need for a successful event: carry first-aid supplies, all adaptors/dongles, anything required for a unique diet, and a microphone if they have specific needs.


  1. Specify meeting logistics early – speakers need to be sensitive to meeting planner’s workload, shipping, logistics and their computer setup. Meeting planners can provide specific dates for delivery of books, handouts, slides and any other requirements to make it a valuable experience for attendees. Pay attention, mark dates calendars and deliver on-time, every time.


  1. Avoid last minute room set changes – some room sets up create valuable and interactive learning experiences for the audience. If you want your audience to focus and pay attention and the speaker requires a specific set up, include it in all preconference calls and contracts and meeting planners need to explain if this isn’t possible due to budget or other speaker setups. Get everything in writing.


  1. Participate actively in sound check and be on time – this is a vital part of every event. Be patient, arrive on time and check slides, remote, microphones and confirm staging arrangement. When sound and lighting aren’t great it distracts your audience, create a pleasant experience for participants.


  1. Don’t forget good manners – it’s astounding people forget basic good manners: ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ go along way when everyone is overwhelmed and the show is about to start. . Actively use people’s names, look people in the eye and send thank you notes to show appreciation for all the hard work. One of my early speaking mentors told me ‘make friends before you make requests’ – this is good advice for all of us involved in meetings.


If your event doesn’t go as planned, your speaker doesn’t arrive, the slides don’t work, and the room isn’t how you want, the audience are noisy …  stay calm, be professional and remember the show always goes on. There are things that a speaker and a meeting planner see that the audience is not aware of, they don’t know what you were planning or had previously organized. Create the best experience for your audience every time by paying attention to the little (and big) details.


A speaker’s job is to stand in service of their audience and a meeting planners is to create a memorable experience for everyone involved – it’s a fantastic partnership that requires we all focus our attention on the best results for everyone.


What would you add to this list? As an audience member, what do you want?

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