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What to Look For in a Great Conference Speaker

Great speakers energize and inspire their audiences. When reviewing proposals for your next keynote here's a few things you want to look for:

Preparation
When addressing a crowd at a trade show, it’s important to be prepared. Speakers should use notes to stay on track but at the same time they shouldn’t become too tied to those notes. If they're working from a complete script of remarks, it may be hard to keep eye contact with the audience. They may have trouble connecting with attendees if they’re looking down the whole time.

Not every trade show will have the same audience makeup. Speakers should consider the general level of industry involvement in advance when preparing their speech. Finding out about an audience prior to the event will
help your speaker establish rapport.

For example, if the attendees are already familiar with your speaker, then the speaker can skip some introduction and not bore them. If the speaker is new to your event, a few lines of of explanation can keep the crowd from becoming confused or disinterested. Either way, considering the crowd makeup will pay off.

The Best Speakers:

  • Believe in their audience
  • Have ideas worth spreading
  • Give people inspiration and hope
  • Make the audience laugh
  • Know pacing so the audience remains energized and attentive
  • Are authentic and can tell a great story

Ability to Answer Audience Questions
Not being able to answer audience questions could cast doubt on the talking points your speaker has just expertly explored.

Attendees want to trust that presenters are knowledgeable about their topics, not just reciting canned talking points. Being ready for their questions could put the exclamation point at the end of a good presentation.

Getting to the Point
When considering speakers at your next trade show, is it better that they hold their attention or keep it snappy?

Today’s professionals carry distracting devices with them all the time. A speech that rambles could find attendees picking up their smartphones and tuning out the message. This means it’s best to get to the highlights early and often.

Barack Obama’s second inaugural speech is considered to be one of best of the last half century, according to the New York Times columnist David Brooks. Obama’s speech lasted just 18 minutes.

Watch President Obama delivers his second inaugural address here.

If you want to have a longer speech keep in mind that it is a good idea to at least keep the 18- minute rule in mind. You want to make sure that the audience pays attention and doesn't leave. A great speaker will break up a long speech every 20 minutes or so with a video, graphics, an audience poll or activity.

Attendees that hear speakers who inspire, who fire the imagination and inform will return the next year.

Event Organizer’s Guide to Keynote Presentations

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