We keep hearing stories about the generational shift in the workplace, with more Gen Y’s (Millennials) moving into leadership positions. That’s true in the world of conferences as well. If you’re a conference organiser, sponsor, speaker, or event manager, it’s crucial that you understand this shift and what it means to you.
Based on McCrindle Research about the Australian workforce, a typical conference audience looks something like this:
In particular, the people who are happy to just sit and listen to presentations now make up less than 30% of the audience.
Of course, smart conference organisers know this, and build programs that balance information with interaction, collaboration, and participation. But if you’re a keynote presenter, you’re expected to mostly just stand on stage and deliver your presentation. What can you do to engage the other 70% of your audience?
I’m glad you asked!
I’m assuming you already know how to engage them during your presentation. Here are five other things you can do around the presentation itself.
1. Update your LinkedIn profile
Yes, you’ve probably got a great Web site, but many of the conference delegates will look you up on LinkedIn first. So make sure your profile is accurate and current.
A great LinkedIn profile has:
- Good quality photo
- Descriptive summary
- Up-to-date history
- Recommendations for and from other people
- Links to videos, slide shows, downloads, etc.
2. Write an article for the conference organiser
Offer to contribute an article for the conference organiser, to include in their newsletter, magazine, and other promotional material.
You don’t have to write it from scratch. Find a few existing articles related to the conference theme and your presentation, show them to the conference organiser, and ask them to choose one that you can tweak to make it more relevant.
3. Interview other speakers
Offer to host an online videoconference (using Google Hangouts on Air, Blab, or even just Skype video) and interview other speakers about their presentations.
The delegates get to see you before they turn up to the conference, which breaks the ice for your presentation. And you’re doing the conference organiser a big favour because you profile not just yourself, but some of the other speakers as well.
4. Use the conference Twitter hashtag
If your conference uses Twitter (as many do now), make it a point to actively participate in it. This is especially true if you’re a speaker or presenter, because it makes the conference organiser happy and encourages participation from the attendees.
You can post interesting things to the Twitter feed before the conference and participate actively in the Twitter stream during the conference. If you’re smart, you can even have Tweets magically appearing during your presentation, reinforcing the key points.
5. Give delegates a chance to engage with you later
Encourage delegates to engage with you after the conference, and give them as many ways as possible to do it. Focus especially on the ways that keep them engaged, rather than just one-off hits. For example, here are some of the things I offer:
- Subscribe to the Fit for the Future podcast
- Subscribe to my Fit for the Future e-mail newsletter
- Read and subscribe to my blog
- Sign up to my free Future Proof webinar series
Which of these ideas can YOU use?
If you’re an experienced conference speaker who hasn’t been doing these things, it’s time to start! It’s tempting to think you still get by with what used to work, but you can’t!
To get started, choose just one of these ideas and build it into your next speaking package. You’ll add value to your client, your audiences, and yourself.
The Future of Conferences
As a conference keynote speaker (and somebody who has been in the industry for over 20 years), I have seen major changes in the way conferences and events work. Especially in the last few years, because of technology, changing demographics, and global connectivity.
If you’re in the MICE industry – as a speaker, conference organiser, speaking bureau, association, event sponsor, or anybody else who’s involved in events – download my new special report “The Future of Conferences”.
This is the brand-new 2018 edition, based on research and trends in the industry, and tailored especially for the Australian market.