A few weeks ago, I wrote about turning your meeting upside down and how/why we do not implement new meeting formats on a larger scale.
I also mentioned how this approach might take a little more effort from both us, the meeting planners, and the speakers.
And if you do turn your meeting upside down and distribute the information material in advance as to use the meeting or conference itself to give the participants an opportunity to discuss and reflect in groups, it will of course have an impact on the speakers as a standard presentation of 132 slides for an hour-long presentation will no longer do, and your speakers should be willing to adjust to the new ‘rules’. This means that he cannot just add your logo to his usual slides and give the same speech he does every time because “that’s how I do it”.
It is OK to make certain requirements when it comes to your speakers…but at the same time it changes your own way of working too.
First, you need to make clear from the first contact to a potential speaker that you are not on the lookout for a standard presentation. He/she should have the possibility to politely decline your invitation if he/she does not feel like taking on a new approach (or have not tried it before and do not have the time to prepare…or…).
On top of that you – the meeting planner – need to beware that once the program has been fully loaded with speakers, your work is not done yet. Now, you need to work with your speakers on the format.
We already established that you distributed the written material beforehand, but maybe you need a few speeches once you have gathered all the participants – maybe to highlight a few points or add information that was not available before the event – and to support the format you really do not want those presentations to be standard.
Instead, you could ask the speakers to present in the form of Pecha Kucha (the speaker gets 6 minutes and 40 seconds to show/speak for 20 slides that are on the screen for 20 seconds each) or Ignite (20 slides that are shown for 15 seconds each – it gives the speaker 5 minutes to present). However, that might leave some speakers asking for a little ‘moral’ support.
Or maybe you ask a somewhat adventurous speaker to present his knowledge in the form of a game of Jeopardy where you can use the answers as a driver for discussion…especially for those questions that get wrong answers.
And you are totally allowed to make these demands. After all, it is your event and I know that you focus on the meeting objectives and that your choice of speakers support these objectives. And you are the one who knows your audience and their preferences the best.
Sometimes, I meet people who are afraid of making demands to an expensive speaker…because “we pay him a lot of money to be here”. Well, exactly! It is your event, and he is just one speaker out of a bunch. He should fit in the format.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. I am not sure that you can book Bono or the Dalai Lama to give a 5 minute Ignite presentation, but if you get either of these personalities to speak at your event, I bow in your honor, no matter the form of their presentation.