Stupid things presenters do (and how to stop them)

Duncan Davidson has a nice post listing several annoying habits some conference presenters have. Duncan of course notices these things since he’s often paid to photograph speakers, and these things make that more difficult than it should be. He includes several good ones including my favorite:

Please take off your name tag. This is self explanatory enough. If you wear your name tag on stage, you make my life easier for captioning. But, you don’t look as good in your photos or on video with a dork tag hanging around your neck. Don’t make my life any easier on this front.

The problem however isn’t the speakers. It’s also the conference organizers.

Conference organizers almost never give speakers any training, advice, suggestions, tip sheets. Nothing. They do absolutely zero to remind speakers of the stupid, easily avoidable, things like the ones Duncan points out. They could tape a simple checklist to the lectern, or even email it out in advance when the speaker signs up to speak.

It’s true conference organizers are very busy and have many things to juggle during an event, but since the event is always centered around the speakers, doing a few little things to up the speaker quality by 10% has to be worthwhile.

7 Responses to “Stupid things presenters do (and how to stop them)”

  1. Gregg Sporar

    One of the nice things about speaking at JavaOne is that they provide professional speaking coaches. They only have a limited number of slots, so there is not room for every speaker, but if you get signed up you get one hour with a trainer who video tapes you and provides constructive feedback to help improve your presentation. I know I have gotten quite a bit out of the sessions I attended.

  2. Tim Walker

    Thanks for pointing to Duncan’s post, Scott – he’s got lots of good advice.

    And I like what you say about making that 10% improvement in speakers, especially since it will be the *crucial* 10% for some speakers — the quantum that will move them from horrible to passable, from passable to quite-good, or from quite-good to outstanding.

    All of this suggests, too, that any presenter should take it upon themselves to move up a sigma or two with their presentation chops. It might mean the difference between being a so-so speaker or one who is sought after.

  3. Carla Verwijs

    I have organized few small conferences. We offered presenters to help them, comment on PP slides, practice, but we always had little response. My feeling is that most of these presenters think they have enough experience, they can do it without help.

  4. Lauren

    Thanks for putting this post up Scott. Great idea for planner to provide a list to the speaker (especially if they are not seasoned presenters). That little extra you do for the speakers is noticed and makes speakers want to come back to your conference. I’ll definitely incorporate the list to my details sheet I send to speakers.


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