Several months ago, a well-known established professional speaker chided me publicly in Facebook because of a post I wrote about how our brains thrive on images.
This speaker said that he didn’t need to add visuals to his presentations because all of his clients were extremely satisfied with his keynote presentations. And he had been doing his presentations without images or PPT for years successfully. Sound familiar?
I laughed when I read this speaker’s public denouncement of my post. Why? Because I had previously hired this speaker and his scores were terrible. And I never hired him again. But he ignored that. He was smug and satisfied with his own ego!
Your Speakers’ Real Presentation Beliefs
Are your conference speakers committed to presenting based on evidence or tradition?
The professional speaker I mentioned above showed his stupidity and ignorance publicly. He refused to acknowledge the empirical research and data about the effectiveness of his presentation.
We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%. ~ Dr. John Medina
Note: More empirical evidence listed below. Don’t miss it!
The fleeting value of this professional speaker’s message is lost and forgotten quickly. If he would add visuals to his presentation, he would increase his chances of transforming lives.
Five Major Missteps By This Ignorant Professional Speaker
True, this professional speaker has been successful in the past. He makes a nice, hefty fee for each of his speeches.
True, he has become somewhat of a legend in the professional speaker circuit.
True, he has been a leader in the National Speakers Association.
But, and it’s a big BUT…
Here are four reasons why this professional speaker gets it wrong.
1. Confirmation Bias Is Stinkin’ Thinkin’
This speaker thinks that his experience is proof and evidence of what is right. That is stinkin’, thinkin’ and is so wrong! His experiences will mislead him, time and time again. Our life experiences are not based on sound scientific research.
His thinking is a byproduct of a myth. Many of us are misled by the stories we construct to explain the world around us and our place within it. It’s confirmation bias at its best.
2. Bad, Biased Evaluation Process
To paraphrase education researcher Dr. Will Thalmeier, most conference evaluation is not correlated with learning. Smile sheet evaluations tell us very little about learning.
We measure conference education at a time that makes speakers and organizers look good. It’s a biased metric and it doesn’t show if learning occurred! ~ Dr. Will Thalheimer.
We should stop evaluating the performance of the speaker and start measuring the outcomes, or lack thereof, of their presentation!
3. This Speaker Only Wants To Tickle Ears
This speaker’s own comments in Facebook illustrated his real beliefs that he’s not there to help the audience learn or change their attitudes, behaviors and skills. He has no desire to create a presentation that is transformational for the audience. He’s there to tickle the audience’s ears and give them a fleeting moment of levity.
4. This Speaker Thinks His Presentation Is For Him
This speaker loves to hear his voice. His presentation is all bout him. He has forgotten that his presentation is for his audience, not him!
Note: When you start securing speakers that need to present in order to attend or that need the public recognition for their college tenure, you’ve shifted the presentation focus from being for the audience to being for the speaker. That’s backwards!
5. Dismissive Of Empirical Evidence
This speaker favors tradition over scientific evidence. He favors his immediate client, the meeting planner that hired him, over the audience and the audience’s needs. He believes that he can change lives with his spoken word.
Evidence Trumps Tradition
The empirical evidence found here and here and here and here and here is loud and clear. An audience, even STEM groups, that listens to a lecture is more likely to fail than an audience that has been involved in active learning such as peer to peer discussions, activities, sense-making and mental exercises.
Speakers cannot hand their knowledge to an audience through the spoken word and then the audience has it. If that were true, all we would have to do is reach out and receive it!
Why are so many organizations willing to pay $15K-$50K, or more, for a keynote presenter? What do we really expect to gain from hiring an expensive professional speaker? (Yeah, I know I’m going to make all the big-name keynote presenters mad…but it’s time to hold them accountable for real learning and not tickling ears!)