I've been asked since taking the position of Director of the Podcasting Track for the New Media Expo, what I'm looking for in a speaker submission. It may be easier to define what I'm not looking for. Poor presentations are like spoiled milk, it doesn't take long to identify something is wrong. The packaging seems fine, the milk may (or may not) have a bad oder, but when the lumps came out of the milk bottle you know that the milk is bad.
The Do's and Don'ts of Presenting
Define Your Audience
You know I was going to start here. It always starts with your target audience. We have people who have never recorded a podcast, and we have those who are approaching 10 years of podcasting. Your presentation very rarely will appeal to both sides of that fence. I would prefer a deeper dive on few subjects (with plenty of take always) then to go shallow on a larger number of topics.
If you show up talking about starting a streaming radio station with your podcast, it is somewhat related but most of us love the joy of time shifted content (which a streaming station is not). I don't think that would be a perfect fit like other topics.
For the record I've been to a number of different events (some speaking, some not). I see a lot of “Winging it” (especially with panels). In the case of panels it is like those group project in schools where everyone assumes the other people are going to do the work (and then nobody does). When I was on a panel with Daniel J. Lewis and Ray Ortega we met a number of times to first organize our content, and then determine who would deliver what. We timed ourselves so we had an idea if we had enough (or too much) content.
When a submission is accepted, you and I will become friends. I'm going to be working with you to ensure that you deliver the best presentation. I'm not telling you what to present, what to say, or even how to say it, but I may help you shape your focus.
Same Old Song and Dance
I've been to almost all of the New Media Expos. People are spending their money to attend. If you spoke last year, don't submit the same presentation that you presented before.
Remember You're Talking to Adults
This is where my background as a teacher will come in handy. It's not enough to say the Audio Technica 2100 is a great podcasting microphone. Adults need to know why. You tell a child that 2+2=4 and they say, “OK.” You say that to an adult and they will start asking questions. The Audio Technica 2100 microphone is a great podcasting microphone because it picks up less room noise than other microphones and it also works as a USB microphone and can be used with a mixer. That is an example of remembering the why.
Back It Up
I can tell you that, “Most podcasters don't make it past episode 7.” This (for the most part) is true. However, if I'm saying this in a presentation I'm going to give my source (Todd Cochrane of the blubrry.com). Why? Trust me. Your audience is going to question anything that makes them go, “Really?” I once saw a speaker misquote a stat about podcast listeners and the hallway was buzzing before their speech was over.
If you're talking about your own experience, then feel free to share. If you live what you're talking about, it helps.
Nothing brings value like “behind the scenes” information that you can't get any place else. That makes your audience say, “I'm glad I was there to catch that presentation” (because they can't get that information any place else).
If you are creating your slides minutes before starting your presentation, you surely haven't spent time practicing this at home. If you're editing (i.e. the perfectionist) that is understandable. Be careful with endless tweaking. By adding, “One more point” you may not leave any time for questions.
Different Levels of Detail
When it comes to different levels of content beginning topics are easy to spot. When it comes to intermediate vs. advanced it gets a little stickier. Here is a way to look at things:
Definition (basic): Twitter is a social media tool
What (intermediate): Twitter is a way to interact with your audience and keep up to date with what is happening.
How: Create a hashtag for your podcast to use so it's easy to find their tweets while promoting your show. Here is how I follow my hashtag, and here what I've learned.
At The End of This Presentation the Audience….
One thing I'm really looking to see is if your presentation will have a “take-away.” I'm actually looking for multiple actions for the audience to take away from the conference. These are specific action items, tools, insights, and information. We all love it when we walk out of a presentation with action items on our mind and inspired to move ahead. Make sure you have your audience saying, “I can't wait. When I get home, I'm going to _____.” I realize in some cases your presentation will be focused to inspire. How did you get to a position to inspire?
One of the Best Presentations I've Seen
One of the best presentations I've seen was from Tim Paige from lead pages. Tim didn't do a giant sales job on lead pages (because nobody flew across the country to watch a commercial). He said he used to do a daily show. Then he decided to change his schedule. He explained the stats of his show and how they originally dipped and then they came back up. He explained by not doing so many episodes he had more time to create better content. He then explained a strategy of building an email list. It was specific (using videos delivered every three days). He had stats from lead pages to show why it was three days. Yes, he mentioned lead pages. He didn't ask for a sale, he simply explained that they organize all the stats from all of their users to determine the most popular forms and strategies. It seamlessly blended in with his presentation and backed up everything he said.
When I left that presentation I had action items. I didn't have idea. I had step one, step two, etc. all mapped out in my head. I was excited, and I felt I had received information that I couldn't get any place else.
When I think about this presentation it had:
1. Energy. Tim was busting at the seams to talk about this subject.
2. Great Content. He knew his audience, and presented a strategy to help them grow their audience.
3. He Backed it Up. He used graphs to show his data, and explained in plain English what it meant.
4. The Why. Tim often explained why they continued to do something (publishing less frequently left more time for content creation).
5. A Take Away – I had a strategy, with specific steps, I could try when I got home.
What is My Target as the Director of Podcasting?
My target is to have the best content provided by the best presenters with the best insights.
The Best Book I've Read on Presentations
One of the best books I've read on presentations is Secrets of Dynamic Communications: Prepare with Focus, Deliver with Clarity, Speak with Power. It's a great book, and walking through the book will help you focus on your content and help you bring out the best points.
Ready To Submit A Presentation?
The deadline for speakers is 10/24. Submit your session today. That is a HARD deadline.