The majority of your conference speakers have a major skills gap!
They are relying on pedagogical mimicry–presenting the same way that their teachers taught them.
That causes you and your conference to rely solely on a foundation of mimicry for education success. And this foundation is the exact the opposite of what your speakers should be doing if the goal is learning! Your dependence on this approach is ultimately causing you to lose money as it does not meet your attendees’ needs and it leads to a learning mirage.
Conference Speakers’ Presentation Method Based On Speculation
Currently, most conference speakers lecture to their audiences. They have assumed that the lecture is the best method that leads to learning. This assumption is based on speculation and not the real evidence. The evidence is that the lecture is the equivalent of distributing a report to your audience. There is not a guarantee that the audience will read the report, use the report, learn the report or apply the report.
Here’s the real truth: most speakers like to hear themselves talk! The more they talk, the more important and expert they feel. The lecture is more about the speaker than the attendee.
But their talk, talk, talk, gets in the way of our attendees’ thinking. It’s time for speakers to stop talking some and allow the audience to talk to each other. I am not saying stop talking all together. I’m saying cut the lecture in half and let the other part of the time be dedicated to audience peer discussion.
The One Who Does The Work, Does The Learning
I am a believer in science. I believe in evidence-based-education and the evidence points to the one that does the most work in a conference education session does the most learning. That work means the one who does the most thinking, does the most learning. The one with the most mental engagement does the most learning.
In most conferences, that’s the speaker. They had to think through their outline and how to present the information. The speaker had to decide what to present and make sure that their information clearly explained the topic. The speaker did the most work.
I’ve written it before: You cannot give your attention to listening and give your attention to thinking at the same time. It’s one or the other. So if you’re listening, you are not doing the work.
So the majority of speakers that lecture to their audiences are mimicking what their teachers did. And if they’ll stop and think about it, they still had to study when their teachers lectured. They still had to learn the information. The lecture didn’t automatically translate into them having the knowledge.
The Conference Speakers’ Skills Arsenal For Success
Conference organizers need to focus on helping their speakers develop presentation expertise that leads to learning. If we don’t take the time, spend the money and learn how to build world-class presenters for our conferences, we will not be able to compete.
Let me state that another way. Your conference education success is dependent upon the skills of your presenters. Your competitors are starting to realize that if they want to compete, they must help their speakers improve.
Some speakers are great orators. They are great at talking to their audience. Ultimately, we don’t want an entire conference of talking heads. A few great orators are enough. We want presenters that help their audience learn!
Speakers with expertise in evidence-based education presentation strategies are the new arsenal for conference success. There’s not a speaker talent war in our conferences and meetings. There’s a war for speakers that have the right skills to facilitate learning.
There’s no better way to win the conference competition than to build an army of presenters equipped with the right skills to facilitate participant-centered learning. When audiences walk away from the conference and say “I learned some things here,” then the conference won’t lose money because of bad speakers.
As long as we continue to hold up the lecture and panel as the best practice for conference education, the more we will continue to lose money. Why will we lose money? Attendees will go elsewhere to get their education needs met where real learning occurs.
Why do so many conference organizers and conference committees ignore presentation skills that lead to learning as a speaker qualification? How can we help our speakers become better presenters?