Why Conference Speakers Need To Add More Value – And Five Ways to Do It

Online educationNow that we have so many more ways to interact and meet – especially online – people have much higher expectations of conferences. Of course, conferences are still important, but they are a huge investment of time and money, so we’re expecting a greater return on that investment.

If you’re a conference speaker, you’ve probably noticed that already. You might still be approached to speak, but you might have noticed that clients now expect more from you than just a one-hour presentation. If you can’t provide additional value, you might struggle to justify your fee, especially when other speakers do provide this value.

The solution is to talk to your client or conference organiser about what you can do to provide additional value. In particular, if you know how to create information products, you can use these in strategic ways to provide low-cost high-value additions to your core presentation.

Here are five examples, which are all based on my own presentations. I’m choosing my own not because I think I’m the best in the world at it, but because I know these examples well, and I can show you how they provided additional value to each client.

Notice how you can add value before, after and even during the presentation.

1. Provide an incentive for people to register

Can you offer a low-cost product or service to your client that they can give away to encourage registrations?

When I delivered a keynote presentation last year for SOCAP Australia, the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals, I worked with the CEO, Amanda Blesing, to look for incentives we could offer to encourage people to register. I had recently recorded an interview with Michael Henderson about corporate culture, so we offered this as a free bonus for SOCAP members who registered by the Early Bird deadline.


2. Interview your client before your presentation

Another way to encourage registrations is to build up interest by sharing interviews with key people. Terry Brock is a master of this, and does a brilliant job of interviewing other speakers and promoting these interviews via his network and theirs.

I’m doing the same for a coming real estate conference this October, where I’ll be delivering a keynote presentation. The organisation is going through a lot of change, and one of the conference goals is to explain the changes. So I’ll be interviewing the CEO of the company about the changes to the organisation and the industry, and he will send out the interview to his database to encourage more registrations.

3. Tweet during your presentation

What can you do during your presentation to add value? Speakers used to provide handouts, worksheets, or other physical material in conference packs, but fewer conferences are providing delegate packs now, and there’s a greater shift to digital information.

When I spoke at the APHA (Australian Private Hospitals Association) conference in Melbourne in March, my keynote presentation talked about the changes to the healthcare landscape in Australia. I knew some delegates would want more details than I could present in an hour, but I didn’t want to clutter up the presentation with all the details of my research. So I used Twitter to send out links to the research material during my presentation. These appeared to delegates using Twitter, the conference app, and a “Tweet Wall” in the reception area (click picture for a larger version):

Of course, I wasn’t stopping every few minutes to send Tweets; I had it automated using Hootsuite.

4. Provide resources after your presentation

What can you add after your presentations to help your audience further?

I’m presenting a session about online video at the MFAA (Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia) in Melbourne this week. I’ll show the delegates how to create a powerful online video for their Web site, but I know there’s so much more to know about online video than we can cover in an hour. So I also provide attendees with access to a password-protected page on my Web site, with online video tips and a one-year course of additional resources on this topic.


5. Offer a follow-up presentation

They might choose somebody else next year, but what other services can you offer them?

Most organisations choose different keynote speakers each year for their annual convention. So, when I delivered a keynote for a real estate organisation’s national conference in 2013, I knew they would be looking for somebody else next time. But because I also conduct webinars, I also offered them a four-part webinar series to teach the concepts from my keynote in more detail. This would have been difficult to do in a series of workshops (because of the logistics of bringing people together), but was easy as a webinar series. As an added benefit, the client also keeps the recordings as a permanent resource on their e-learning platform.

What can YOU do?

Perhaps one or more of these ideas will be perfect for you. If that’s the case, great! You have my permission to copy the idea and use it yourself.

If none of them work for you, I hope they still spark an idea for something else you can do.

Either way, remember that it’s about providing real value. The more real, practical value you can provide, the more attractive you are to the client, and the greater the impact you will have on your audience.

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