Improve Your Conference Presentation: Deliver on Your Preview

I saw the previews to Up All Night, one of the newer sitcoms on NBC, and thought to myself, “That show looks stupid. I’ll be skipping that one, thank you very much!”

But one night, shortly after it started, I couldn’t find anything else to watch during that particular 30 minute time slot so I grudgingly watched Up All Night. It was actually a much better show than I thought it would be. Now I regularly choose it over other shows.

(Yes, I watch too much television. But I’m at peace with that so don’t judge me!)

More often, my experience has been the exact opposite. I see the previews to a movie or television show, get my hopes up and then I’m terribly disappointed when I see the actual show.

The same can be said of conference presentations.

The Conference Presentation Description Is Your Preview

Many a conference I’ve poured through the conference program, strategically planning which concurrent session I will attend based on the preview provided by the program description. I agonize over my choices, and force myself to make the tough call between two or three sessions that sound equally great.

Far too often, the preview, that great-sounding program description isn’t what was promised when I showed up to the session. I hate when that happens! I am either left disappointed in my choice – or prompted to leave the room in hopes that I can still get a seat in the session I originally chose to skip. Either way, not a good conference-going experience.

Talk about What You Said You Were Going to Talk About!

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it 487 times… “Thank you for choosing this session. I know you had so many others to choose from…blah, blah, blah.”

It’s not the way I would choose or recommend to start out a presentation. But it is an important point to remember as you craft your conference presentation. Your audience members chose you! And unless you just have groupies that come to any session you happen to present at (and I know there are those of you who do), then be sure to deliver what you say you’re going to deliver.

But Kelly, I Had a Newer Idea… a Better Idea… a Different Idea… an Idea that Interests Me More

You submitted your program descriptions months before the event. The event organizer chose your program based on that description. Deliver what you promised.

Does that mean you can’t add additional information in to benefit the audience? Maybe. Maybe not.

Ask yourself…

  • Does the additional information create overload for the audience? If yes – leave it out.

  • Does the additional information enhance the promoted content? If yes – add it.

  • Does the adding the extra information mean you won’t have time left to cover the promised content? If yes – leave it out.

  • Does the new content address real time changes going on in the world and the topic today? Does it supersede information you’d planned to present? If yes – then of course you’re going to want to give your audience the best information.

  • Do you want to change the topic focus because you’re bored presenting the same information at yet another conference? If yes – leave out the new topic, deliver a great presentation on what you planned to discuss, then stop delivering that presentation and change jobs.

Your audience members are counting on you. They made a choice to come see you based on the preview in your program description.

The event organizer is counting on you. They chose you as a speaker because of the preview in your program description.

Please. For your audience’s sake. For the event organizer’s sake. And ultimately for your sake if you want to connect with your audience and honor the relationship with the event organizer, deliver what you said you’d deliver. Period.

Make everyone happier knowing they made the right choice in choosing you. And no one will be disappointed based on the preview.