Alex Hunter, former global head of digital for the Virgin Group, talks about customer experience, branding, and loyalty at events around the globe. Here he shares his insights as a professional speaker on how to get the most out of the presenters you hire for your events.
For the last 10 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to speak 20–30 times a year at events all over the world. And while the subject matter, audience, and organisers differ dramatically from event to event, I’ve noticed a handful of key consistencies that, at least from a speaker’s perspective, elevate an event from good to great.
1) Flexible AV team — As speakers we want to deliver wow to every audience we step in front of and many of us rely on slides and visuals to do that. Having an AV team that understands and is equipped to handle the modern, multi-platform (e.g., Mac vs PC, Keynote vs PowerPoint, etc.) presentation environment is a godsend. It means we can deliver a seamless, slick experience without any hiccups or degradation in the audience’s experience.
2) Keep the tech simple — It’s very tempting to deploy the latest in conference tech during a speaker’s session — automated Q&A, real-time feedback platforms, etc. These systems can work well if they’re used judiciously. For example, having real-time feedback or Q&A displayed while a speaker is on stage can be distracting for both audience and speaker. But using technology to allow the audience to submit questions which are then relayed to the speaker, either directly or via a moderator, can be a great way to overcome shyness from the audience. So, while it may seem innovative to try a new audience polling software, sometimes a quick show of hands is just as effective!
3) Don’t shield us — One of the joys of speaking at a conference is hanging out with the audience before or after my speech. It’s a chance for me to interact, discuss, and learn. And for the audience it’s a chance for an extended Q&A session during a coffee break or lunch. Often event organisers feel they’re doing the speaker a favour by isolating them from the audience at every turn, but I think you’d be surprised by how many of us love our time with your attendees.
Learn more about Alex Hunter and see a clip of him speaking here.