Monday, January 27, 2014

Can A Speaker Be Too Interactive?

There is a welcome movement in the meetings industry toward "Interactive Presentations".  A speaker should no longer be a "Sage from the Stage", but instead someone who engages the audience and contributes to the conference attendee experience.  However, sometimes it is being overdone.  Too many speakers who are calling themselves "interactive" are not doing much - other than telling the audience members to talk to their neighbors.

Being interactive for the sake of being interactive defeats the purpose.  Audiences at conferences want to participate and share their ideas, but not all speakers have developed the skills necessary to make their interaction a useful experience.  

It is also important to remember that a keynote presentation is not a workshop. While I am in favor of interactive keynotes, some are going too far and undermining the power of a great keynote address to set the tone for an event.  

Sometimes less is more.  Many are in favor of the changes in what is being expected from conference speakers (me too), and most of these changes are for the greater good.  

When an idea gains traction too many try to cram it into all situations. No two conferences are the same, and thus what is needed from speakers cannot be treated in cookie-cutter format.  

Speakers should not "data dump" fact and figures, nor should they mistakenly position themselves as the sole expert in the room (the audience is full of experts, too).  But audiences cannot spend the whole time being asked to talk to their neighbor, as the people who are seated next to those with nothing of value to discuss will be left out of the learning.  

I recently witnessed a speaker who was "too interactive".  He did not give much to the audience, but instead facilitated a social coffee klatch during his keynote.  Most people did not find value in the experience, but the organizer kept bragging on the session later in the day as an example of the "modern keynote".  I am still not sure if the organizer was in the same room as the rest of the audience!  Good in concept only goes so far.... there still needs to be a positive mix of content and style delivered or it is a waste of time.

A keynote still needs a "Key Note".  The tone is set by the speaker no matter what style is used to lead a session.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

1 comment:

Robert Bradford said...

I interact way more than most in keynotes...but I'd never just turn it into a discussion. It's best as a CONTROLLED conversation with the audience getting a word in now and then...