SpeakerEvent: Behind the Scenes at the 2013 Sapphire NOW + ASUG Conference

The 2013 Sapphire NOW + ASUG Conference opened on Tuesday, May 14th at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. This 3-day event will attract 20,000+ IT decision-makers from around the world. I was in Orlando this past weekend working with several clients as they prepared their presentations.

What is unique about this show is the presentation environment. Usually when I work with conference speakers they will present in a room dedicated to their “session” (whether it is a keynote, plenary or a concurrent educational presentation).

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The Sapphire conference, however, is set up as an open concept environment. This means that the theater for keynote presentations, defined spaces for educational sessions, exhibit booths, demonstration areas, and gathering places are all together on the trade show floor. No walls, no privacy, and a lot going on!

Because of this structure speakers will deliver their presentations in a very large area with competing situations such as demonstrations, conversations at exhibit booths, and attendees just milling about. A challenge indeed!

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During the speaker coaching we focused on 3 key aspects:

  1. Keep the message clear, succinct, and attention-getting. If attendees don’t immediately hear “what is in it for them” they will wander off.
  2. Arrive at the presentation space early. Familiarize yourself with the surroundings and determine how best to manage the dynamics of the space.
  3. Include your entire audience in your presentation by using clear, direct and roving eye contact. This will let listeners know you care and they will be less likely to lose interest.

These points resonated with my clients and fortified them for the challenge of presenting in an open concept forum.

Have you had to present in this type of environment, please share with us your experience!

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