Are Your Attendees Falling Asleep? Reformatting Your Conference


You may have glanced over the sea of faces at your conferences or meeting and found that some of the audience members looked dazed, glazed…or maybe they were snoring. Not a great sign, unless your presentation is focused on meditation practices and effects. The nature of presenting and speaking has changed, arguably in the same way that our news is now delivered, and commercials are produced. We need to be quick, unique and engaging. And let’s face it; we’re not all Martin Luther King, Jr.

In this piece by Hannah Kinnersley on MeetingsNet, she describes speaking at a conference as a cross between speed dating and performing at a poetry slam.

“Which one will work at your conference?” she asks.

To answer this important question, Kinnersley delves into tips from Rhonda M. Payne, CAE, chief learning officer from the American Society for Association Executives. Payne, at an annual conference in 2016, introduced nontraditional formats for conferences.

Try running TED Talk–style mini talks that focus on one idea, and set up discussions for attendees.

Try running TED Talk–style mini talks that focus on one idea, and set up discussions for attendees.

“ASAE embraced the cultural shift toward learning in a limited amount of time with both Ignite talks (five minute presentations with 20 auto-advancing slides) and Story Slams inspired by The Moth radio show,” wrote Kinnersley, “where slammers have five minutes to tell a story based on a shared theme.

They also made use of TED Talk–style mini talks that focused on one idea, and set up Open Space discussions for attendees to learn more about a topic of their choice.”Expert Brian Palmer, president of the National Speakers Bureau, also offers suggestions, suggesting shorter speeches, but also the importance of engaging speakers.

dreamstime_xxl_9545566Adrian Segar, author and president of Conferences that Work, told MeetingsNet that he recommends speakers follow the advice of developmental molecular biologist, John Medina. Medina warns that after ten minutes, the human brain stops paying attention. In order to hold an audience, the speaker must include regular amounts of emotionally competent stimuli, also known as ECS.

And hey, if all else fails, learn to juggle.

Read the full piece on MeetingsNet.

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