Thommo’s top tips for delivering knockout seminars
I recently was engaged to deliver a seminar at a large exhibition at the NEC. No sooner was I asked, the pressure was on to develop a theme. Jeepers! We are an IT company and IT is right up there with planning law and wallpaper paste in the all-time list of boring topics. However, the reality is that these days, IT makes the world go round, so the challenge is to help people ‘connect’ with it as they would a physical object such as a new sofa or sports car.
So, the starting point is who are you speaking to and what are their pains? In this case, we settled on ‘entrepreneurs’ and ‘lack of cash’ in that order. Moving swiftly on, what is the solution? We came up with a ‘lean approach’ to starting up and running a business. This framework utilises the emergence of outsourcing services for small companies and fundamentally relies on ‘variablising’ as many fixed costs as possible.
Now, this is such a great concept that the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t even recognise the word yet! However, I can’t see it being long before my creation joins LOL, IMO and Twerking in that weighty tome. You heard it here first.
Having knocked together the usual Powerpoint and adopted a position of ‘intellectual honesty’ (one of my another presentation themes) I decided it was hellishly boring and needed ‘jazzing up’. Everyone has their own speaking style, but my thoughts are that engaging speaking should take the following factors into account:
1. Always ad lib
2. Show a ‘bit of leg’ – don’t withhold the golden nuggets of information that audiences crave
3. Never read out your powerpoint
4. Avoid too many slides and bullets, use pictures
5. Throw in a few jokes
6. Have some audience participation – a ‘hands up’ or vote
7. Never take yourself too seriously
8. Appeal to the ‘pain’ of your audience – empathy
9. Introduce a solution
10. Never hector or brow-beat
11. Keep it light hearted and fun
12. Suck on a climpie, your mouth is guaranteed to run dry after about 2 minutes.
At 11.45 on the 9th September, up stepped a cross between Alan Partridge, Sir John Harvey-Jones and Les Dawson to address a sizeable gathering, complete with the Britney Spears mic…oh baby baby! The 30 minutes were a blur, but a few smirks at the mother-in-law gag and a satisfying ripple of applause at the end told me I had ‘done a job’. The newly equipped lean thinking entrepreneurs duly dispersed and I wish them all god speed in their efforts to startup and run an online business.