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Evaluate Your Conference Presentation Effectiveness – Part 1 – Content Evaluation


My first job for pay was in sales… as a telemarketer for Olin Mills.

There were several of us crammed into a motel room at the Redwood Inn in Jefferson, Iowa.  I had never even heard of Olin Mills before I’d answered the ad for part time work.  I was hired for 3 whole whopping days.

We sat in this room, inches away from each other, making phone calls to the 5,000 residents of this rural Iowa town, following the script they had provided us.  If one of us made a sale, you filled out the paper work, made the appointment and when you hung up the phone, you got to ding the bell to let the whole room know that you’d made a sale.  I got to ding the bell… once.

Perhaps I’m still not much of a sales person.  But I do understand that processes can help us to be more repeatable with our success – if the processes we’re following are good processes.

So are you following good processes with your conference presentations?

I’m in the process of developing a Conference Presentation Assessment Tool to help industry speakers evaluate the effectiveness of their conference presentation.  I guess it will become obvious to people answering the questions that there are some methods that I consider more effective than others in delivering a conference presentation.  My thinking is that if you don’t know what you don’t know, then how do you know how to improve your processes?  This tool when complete will help you affirm whether those best practices you are already following and identifies areas for focus to make yourself even better.

Here are a few questions to get the assessment started.  Let me know if you think of the questions and the options offered.  How do you rate?

Which best describes your conference presentation – only choose one:

  1. The audience is able to immediately use the information that I provide in my conference presentation when they return to their workplace.
  2. The audience is able to make better-informed decisions when they return to the work place because they attended my conference presentation.
  3. The audience is able to apply what they learn from my conference presentation if they purchase an additional product or service from my organization.
  4. The audience will be better informed about a certain aspect of their industry based on my conference presentation but may never use that information in their workplace.
  5. The audience finds my conference presentation interesting or entertaining, though probably not relevant to their work.

How do you customize your presentation for the conference audience:

  1. I don’t customize my presentation for each audience.  I do the same presentation at each event.
  2. I update my slides with the conference logo.
  3. I modify my examples or stories to match the industry of the organization I’m addressing.
  4. I ask the audience members the day of the session what they were hoping to get out of the session.
  5. I work with the conference leaders to better understand the attendees and make changes to my content based on that information.
  6. In addition to talking to conference leaders, I interview members of the prospective audience and adjust my content based on the information gathered.

How would you describe your background compared to the audiences you address:

  1. I’m in the same industry as my audiences doing similar roles.
  2. My audience members are typically customers or prospective customers.
  3. I have very mixed audiences, some with similar backgrounds and some with unrelated backgrounds.
  4. I rarely have the same background and experience as my audiences.

Which answer do you think lead to the most effective presentations?  Why?

You can probably guess by reading the questions which answers I think are the most effective.  Do you agree?  Where did I get it wrong?  I’d love to see your thoughts in the comments section!