Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Video required before you speak at conference

Is this a sign of things to come for conference speakers? The National Speakers Association (NSA) in the U.S. is now requiring prospective speakers at their winter 2011 conference to agree to create a short (2-3 minute) promotional video to explain why an attendee should come to their concurrent session. What impact could this have if presenters at all conferences were asked to do this?

First, presenters would have to think through what the benefit of their session would be to the audience. They would have to map it out and be able to articulate what they will cover and how that will help the audience. I think this would be a good thing. Too many conference presenters throw their presentation together at the last minute. This would force them to think it through in advance.

Second, it would force presenters to truly have the audience in mind when developing content. If they are going to go on record as stating what they will cover and how it will be useful, they need to consider what their audience wants to hear on that topic. This would be a great improvement from the many presentations that are simply what the presenter wanted to say and leave the audience wondering what’s in it for them.

Third, we might see more and better use of video in presentations. Once presenters get comfortable with the use of video, they start to see how it could benefit their presentations. It is like anything new, the more we get experience with it, the better we become at using it, and the more we see how it could benefit us. Short video segments can really add to the effectiveness of a presentation.

And fourth, the attendees would make better choices about which concurrent sessions they want to select based on what will be covered and the speaking style of the presenter. Think of how many sessions you’ve gone to where the presenter did not stick to what they said they would cover or you discovered they weren’t a very good presenter. The probability of selecting a poor session would be reduced if you got to “test” the presenter via video before committing to the session.

It’s great to see this conference start to leverage web tools to build interest amongst potential attendees through using video. I outlined more ideas for conference organizers in an article published last year in Speaking of Impact magazine (see page 26 of this issue).


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