Why Top-Rated Speakers Stick to the Script

Conference managers often ask their attendees for feedback – both positive and negative – so that they can improve each event experience. Through this process, I’ve learned that few things irritate conference managers and attendees more than a discrepancy between the original session abstract and the presented lecture. Attendees have limited time at conferences and if there are several concurrent sessions, they must choose only one. They want to feel confident they are making a wise choice based on their objectives for attending the conference. So when a speaker steps on stage and begins presenting a topic that varies dramatically from the talk description in the printed agenda, it does not go over well with the audience.

As a speaker, avoiding this faux pas is easy – always keep a copy of the speaker proposal you originally submitted and do not vary from that description when developing the presentation. Then ask yourself the following questions when drafting your talk outline:

  • Does this topic match the idea I originally submitted?
  • Can I use my original list of learning objectives or attendee takeaways to develop an outline of my session?
  • What are the most important points to cover in the time I am allotted?
  • If I must change the focus slightly, do I have time to get it approved by conference manager – meaning they have time to update the session description on the conference brochure/website?

Ensuring that your session description matches your presentation is an easy way to create a positive experience for attendees and build trust with your target audience. At the end of the day, if you can provide tangible takeaways that they can utilize in their work lives, you will have a happy audience AND a more positive response on those session feedback forms.

 

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Conference News: What I learned this week – November 30, 2018

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise: When Collision Conference returns in May of 2019, not only will it be in a new location (Toronto) but it will also be adding two new stages to its conference line up! HealthConf brings together “industry giants, disruptive startups, investors and innovators … to redefine fitness, health and healthcare.” Due to the popularity of Collision’s sister event, focused on fintech, Collision 2019 will also include the MoneyConf stage. This stage will gather “the world’s leading banks, tech firms and disruptive startups to…discuss the future of finance.” A list of all the Collision stages may be found here.

A More Efficient Workforce of Tomorrow: After taking into consideration the feedback from the high-level leaders in industry, education, government, and nonprofit that attend their annual conference, the event team at the U.S. News & World Report has announced that the STEM Solutions: Workforce of Tomorrow Conference will transition to a one-day summit. According to the event team: “This will ensure valuable conversations during networking opportunities, such as during our popular roundtables. At the same time, we’ll also be doing more on usnews.com before and after the event in order to help the conversation go beyond the four walls.” The conference will take place on 22 May 2019, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., covering issues key to the future of education and workforce development.

Not Gonna Happen: Digital Hollywood Media Summit will not be happening in 2019 as the producer of those events will be focusing his efforts on a new event collocated with Mobile World Congress Americas, taking place from 22 – 24 October in LA. He will also feature a new Personal Wellness = Fitness + Sports + Nutrition + Mindfulness track at Digital Hollywood Spring, from 21- 23 May. The Spring Summit will focus mostly on film/TV, wellness and advertising topics.

Speaking Opportunity: Content Marketing World is back at it, planning next year’s program (3-6 September 2019 in Cleveland) and accepting speaking proposals now. Marketers, PR professionals, and content creators should submit original, never-before presented topic proposals that highlight a B2B, B2C, or non-profit brand story of content marketing in action.  The 14 December deadline is strict, and videos are a must. So if you don’t have a video of yourself speaking already, break out the camcorder or just your phone and start explaining your topic!

Lunchtime Learning: Communicators from non-profits, foundations, and other impact-driven organizations gather each year at ComNet San Francisco to practice what they preach and preach what they practice – building a better world through the “smart and deliberate use of strategic communications.” Every comms professional – no matter your industry – can glean inspiration from the 2018 keynotes, which included senior editor of The Atlantic David Frum, former president of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards, and media triple-threat Lena Waithe. Check out their talks here, and then get ready to put aside your doubt and lead!

Coming up next week: Work in AI? Chances are good you’re headed east next week. At the cerebral-sounding Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) Conference (3-8 December; Montreal), what began as a modest and niche technical conference now attracts big tech firms and nearly 8,000 attendees. Down the eastern seaboard, AI World kicks off 3 December in Boston, while AI Summit NYC runs 5-6 December. CNBC wraps its multi-part @Work series on 3 December in San Francisco with Capital@Work, a program focused on investing in the future workforce that is geared toward CFOs and senior financial managers. Also in SF, VRX Conference runs 6-7 December and tackles the real market opportunities and impacts of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. Business Insider’s Ignition gets underway 3 December in NYC, showcasing a program of interviews with leaders in media, tech, and journalism. Lastly, Black Hat Europe (3-6 December) brings the latest trends and developments in infosecurity to London.

Conference News: What I learned this week – November 16, 2018

IP to DX: Imago Techmedia, the team behind IP EXPO and the Cyber Security Series of events has announced that they are officially changing the name of IP Expo Europe. From 2019 and beyond, the conference will be known as Digital Transformation EXPO. Digital Transformation EXPO, which will run from 9 – 10 October 2019, will combine the proven cloud, infrastructure and security credentials of the IP EXPO Event Series and Cyber Security Event Series with four new EXPO brands – AI-Analytics X, Blockchain X, Internet of Things X and Developer X.

The Big Apple Gets Digital: TechMedia, LLC, which hosts the Digital Summit series of events within cities around the country for the digital marketing community has added a new location to its 2019 lineup: The Big Apple! That’s right, Digital Summit will take place in New York City on 1 – 2 May. Although this is the first year of the event, the organizers expect approximately 1,500 attendees. More information on this series of events may be found here.

Speaking Opportunity:  The Cannes Lions 66th International Festival of Creativity which will again return to the seaside town on 17 – 22 June 2019, has opened its call for content and is currently seeking speakers who will share world-class information that will illustrate how an organization “raised the bar of creativity in branded communications.” If you have a real-world case study or lesson to share that is “inspiring, surprising and provocative,” submit via their online form by 14 December. Cannes Lions Beach panels, China Day talks, and Lions Health have separate CFP processes. Read the Call for Content guide on how to complete your speaker submission.

Lunchtime Learning: Money20/20, which wrapped a few weeks ago, featured more than 400 speakers from the most innovative companies as well as thought leaders from startups that are redefining how we view and address the industry. The conference is self-described as the place “where the Payments, Commerce and Financial Technology ecosystem unites to create and explore the disruptive ways in which consumers and businesses manage, spend, invest, protect, share and borrow money.” Check out previous keynote speakers as well as the daily conference highlights to find out everything you need to know about saving, spending and investing.

Coming up Soon: Next week conference activity is quiet in the U.S. because of Thanksgiving, but internationally this is the start of a busy conference month leading up to year end. On Wednesday, for example, the Telegraph’s Smart Mobility Summit (21 November; London) will be focused on the commercialization of autonomous cars. Post Thanksgiving, we see an uptick in U.S. events as well. AWS re:Invent gets underway 26 November in Las Vegas, drawing around 30,000 customers and partners for keynotes, bootcamps, certifications, and networking. Automobility LA (26-29 November) explores the future of human driving and mobility, with virtually all the major auto tech players and makers on hand. At Bloomberg’s Year Ahead Conference, the invite-only crowd will attempt to solve a wide-reaching variety of today’s most critical business issues; while the Forbes Healthcare Summit – also invite-only – focuses on major innovations in medical technology and public health. TEDWomen (28-30 November; Palm Springs) offers everything we’ve come to expect from the TED brand – eponymous talks, unexpected but valuable connections, and memorable videos – with a focus on women who shatter the status quo. And in Santa Clara on 28 November, the co-located IoT Tech, Cyber Security & Cloud, Blockchain, and AI & Big Data Expos draw a collective 13,000 IT leaders and ancillary industry professionals for an expo floor and conference agendas on these cutting-edge innovations.

Conference News: What I learned this week – November 9, 2018

Living on the Edge: In January the BroadGroup will expand their Edge Conference franchise further with Edge Europe. While the group previously held an Edge event as part of their Datacloud flagship event in Monaco, Edge Europe will be a standalone conference taking place in Amsterdam from 30 – 31 January 2019. Topics that may be covered include: Defining the Edge and the Impact on the Data Center; Exploring Standards at the Edge; and Infrastructure Requirements and Responsibilities.

Get to the Point: “Dull talks at conferences can feel interminable. Or could it be that they really do go on for longer?” begins an article in Nature. While anyone who has suffered through a long-winded conference speaker has likely asked a similar question, Professor Robert M. Ewers of the Imperial College London decided to take it to the next level by formally researching the phenomenon. His findings? “For every 70 seconds that a speaker droned on, the odds that their talk had been boring doubled.” Professor Ewers then goes on to make an actionable recommendation: “To avoid banality, speakers should introduce their objectives early on and focus on pertinent information. They should avoid trite explanations, repetition, getting bogged down by irrelevant minutiae and passing off common knowledge as fresh insight.” We concur.

NASSCOM Name Change: NASSCOM’s flagship event, called the India Leadership Forum has been a successful conference for 26-years. So why have the conference organizers decided to rebrand and rename the forum in 2019 to NASSCOM Technology & Leadership (NTLF), where “T” (Technology) replaces “I”?  This is something that the conference team considered as they were wrapping up their World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT), which had strong attendance and a very engaged audience. They realized that almost every company is now a tech company in some way. “Technology is at the heart of businesses today and is reshaping strategy, culture, jobs, policy and everything we do. NTLF will create a platform which brings together technology and leaders to not only talk about tech but the ‘business of tech’.”

Speaking Opportunity: The organizers of NAB Show are now accepting speaker submissions for the 2019 program, which will be held 6 – 11 April in Las Vegas. This is the larger NAB conference & expo (as opposed to NAB’s NYC show, which just wrapped), drawing more than 100k attendees to address the convergence of media, entertainment & technology. Topics of interest in 2019 include: Advanced Advertising; eSports & Game Development; AI/Machine Learning/Deep Learning; 5G; Connected Cars and the Passenger Economy; Content Creators & Creative Masters; Podcasting; Innovation Pipeline; Multicultural Media Strategies; Next-Gen Media Technologies; and The Content Cloud. The deadline to submit a speaker proposal is Friday, 30 November.

Lunchtime Learning: BSR™ is a global nonprofit organization that works with its network of more than 250 member companies and other partners to build a just and sustainable world. At this year’s BSR Conference which was held earlier this week in New York City, participants discussed “A New Blueprint for Business” and explored “what it takes to build a truly sustainable business that is resilient in the context of profound societal and environmental change.” Watch speakers from past BSR events to understand why “issues that have long been part of the remit of sustainability professionals are changing and becoming more and more central to business strategy.”

Coming Up Next Week: “Harnessing Tech for Responsible Growth” is a chief goal for many business leaders today; it’s also the theme of Techonomy18, which will run 11-13 November in Half Moon Bay. Questions posed by speakers at Techonomy this year include: Will software robots make work more creative? And, is universal cooperation a pipe dream? In Laguna Beach, WSJ’s flagship tech event D.LIVE gets underway on 12 November and features among its speaker lineup top executives from Uber, Google, Coinbase, and more. Senior technologist from CTOs on down attend SYS-CON’s Cloud Expo in New York (12-13 November) for a massive conversation around the technologies enabling digital transformation. Technology, Economy & Society are this year’s underlying themes. Infosecurity USA will be held 14-15 November in New York and draws over 4,000 security professionals for both inspiring talks and technical workshops. At Forbes CMO Summit (14-16 November; Dana Point) it’s all about this year’s theme “Champions of Change: CMOs at the Center of Business, Tech and Cultural Innovation” and the increasingly diverse hats chief marketers wear. Last but not least, the largest gathering of early childhood educators, administrators, and researchers – NAEYC Conference and Expo – begins 14 November in Washington DC.

 

Conference News: The Healthcare Issue! – November 2, 2018

Changes in Your HLTH: HLTH launched in May 2018 with a goal of covering “disruptive innovations that are driving substantial reductions in health costs and dramatic increases in health quality.” The conference was wildly successful, attracting 3,500 attendees in its first year. But according to the conference organizers, there were too many healthcare events in the spring and moving the fall allowed them to be “even more impactful in our mission to serve as a catalyst for the improvement of healthcare in the US by enabling the industry to regroup as the current year comes to an end, as well as commence critical planning before the start of the new year.” Therefore, the next HLTH event will be 27-30 October 2019 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Changes in a Name: Last week, The Aspen Institute and partner The Atlantic Magazine announced that they are renaming their health-themed conference, Spotlight Health. Henceforth, it will be known as Aspen Ideas: Health. The conference has been the opening segment of the Aspen Ideas Festival since 2014. According to the organizers, they wanted to better align the conference name with “the word that defines us as an organization, convener, and event: IDEAS.” Programming for Aspen Ideas: Health will not change at all in its focus. It will be held from 20 – 23 June 2019.

Speaking Opportunity: AI & Big Data for Healthcare Summit will be one of the conferences featured as part of the of the 2019 DataX London Festival which runs from 2 – 3 May 2019. On 2 May, this summit will explore how leaders in the healthcare field may leverage data analytics to deliver patient-centric outcomes.  If you have a real-world example or case study to share, make your speaker and topic suggestion within the next month. Speaker suggestions are accepted on a rolling basis.

Lunchtime Learning: Fortune Conferences has announced that the fourth annual Brainstorm Health event will return to San Diego from 2 – 3 April 2019. The conference will again bring together CXOs from companies, hospitals, insurers, pharma and biotech as well as VCs and technology luminaries. Watch some of last year’s inspiring talks including interviews with the CEOs of Aetna Inc. and  Kaiser Permanente, Leaders from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Stanford University School of Medicine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and even author and life strategist, Tony Robbins.

Coming Up Next Week: What event did Forbes call “the best technology conference on the planet” and also recently announced it will stay in Lisbon for the next decade? That would be Web Summit, which on 5 November welcomes another 70,000 founders, investors, innovators, and journalists to collectively ask the tech world: where to next? Or head east across the Iberian Peninsula, and you’ll land at VMworld/Europe (5-8 November; Barcelona). More than 8,000 IT professionals and executives gather here for the latest on trends enabling the digital enterprise. At long-running BSR Conference in New York (6-8 November), senior execs from Fortune 500 companies come together with foundations, entrepreneurs, and policymakers to define a “new blueprint” for sustainability. The video marketplace ecosystem meets at VideoNomics Summit on 7 November in Rancho Palos Verdes. Among the experts lined up to speak here are executives from Amazon Studios and PBS, as well as agencies and brands. And on 9 November in San Jose, AI Frontiers will see all the usual suspects – Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft, you name it – gather to examine opportunities and challenges in deploying AI large scale.

Conference News: What I learned this week – October 26, 2018

KNOW Something New: KNOW Conference has grown so much over the past three years that it is moving to new digs in Vegas in 2019. But that is not all that is new at KNOW. When the next edition of the conference takes place on 24 – 27 March, the organizers will reveal a more robust agenda, including six tracks (trust & safety, digital identity, fintech & payments, regtech, innovation & technology, and security) and several new session formats: debates, lighting talks, workshops and fireside chats. Check out the agenda here.

The Next Chapter: The Next Web Conference has been held in Amsterdam’s Westerpark for more than a decade. Earlier this year, we covered some of the new stages they added to the 2018 programme. And now the conference organizers have announced that they will be relocating the conference in 2019.  TNW2019 will be hosted at NDSM, Amsterdam Noord, increasing expected attendance to 17,500! According to the Events Director Wytze de Hann, “With a century’s worth of history, this former shipyard has been a cradle of Dutch innovation for the worldwide shipbuilding industry. I couldn’t think of a more fitting location to host TNW Conference on May 9 & 10, 2019.”

Speaking Opportunity: Techno Security & Digital Forensics Conference provides a unique education experience that blends together the digital forensics and cybersecurity industries for collaboration between government and private sectors. Qualified industry professionals are currently invited to submit their session proposal to be considered as a speaker for the Myrtle Beach edition of Techno Security & Digital Forensics Conference, happening in 2019 at the Marriott Resort at Grande Dunes from 2 – 5 June. Speaker candidates should submit abstracts that are relevant, current, and reflect a learning objective from one of the following primary session tracks: Audit/Risk Management; Forensics; Investigations; and Information Security. All submissions are due by 17 December 2018 via their online form.

Lunchtime Learning: Assembling icons who have made the world “wired” over the last 25 years on one stage is no small feat. And yet that’s exactly what happened at the WIRED 25 Summit, which was held last month in San Francisco as part of the WIRED 25 Festival, a celebration of the publication’s quarter-century mark. It featured among its festival lineup a robot petting zoo (yes, you read that correctly), mixed reality studios, and “work immersion” visits at offices including Slack, Lyft, Airbnb, and HP. Most impressive though was WIRED 25’s knockout summit lineup: Jeff Bezos, Sean Parker, and Anna Wintour, not to mention Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and others. With so much star power, we recommend wearing sunglasses when checking out the video from their talks!

Coming Up Next Week: The future of the workplace continues its reign as a top conference theme in 2018. In New York this week, two events tackle this very issue: CNBC’s Productivity@Work (30 October) and Atlantic’s Future of Work conference (31 August). Productivty@Work is the second of CNBC’s three-part series on the future of work and will focus on how human capital is best deployed in the fourth industrial revolution targeting CIOs and CTOs, while the Atlantic’s event is designed for business leaders across industries, policymakers, and academia. Unbound Miami gets underway on 30 October. Hailed as a disruptive tech innovation hub, it reaches 5,000 attendees in sectors like fintech, adtech, AI, healthtech, eCommerce, and robotics. CHIME CIO Forum/Fall, which is held 30 October – 2 November in San Diego, offers a premier gathering of hospital and health system executives with ample opportunity for candid conversation. And on 30 October, Educause Annual Conference assembles over 7,000 higher education IT professionals for networking and idea sharing tailored toward individual attendee’s experience levels.

Conference News: What I learned this week – October 19, 2018

Future Reality: Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference & Expo (SVVR) began as a small meet up for VR enthusiasts and eventually grew into a massive conference designed to highlight AR/VR/MR technologies. They recently announced that they will not host a 2018 or 2019 Conference & Expo but that it will return in 2020. Watch here for more details.

Entrepreneurship Year Round : The Harvard Entrepreneurship Club has announced that instead of holding one annual conference in 2019, they will instead be hosting a monthly speaker series highlighting a seasoned business founder sharing their secrets for success as well as incorporating a pitch competition for students involving local investors. The conference had traditionally taken place in March and featured a day-long agenda of keynotes and breakout sessions. The club leaders said that there is a possibility that they will again host the conference but wanted to try a new format in 2019 based on members’ feedback.

Speaking Opportunity: MarTech Conferences are designed to help marketing leaders “discover, learn, and connect with others passionate about the challenges of modern marketing.” The conference organizers are currently seeking speaker proposals for the West Coast event which will be in San Jose, CA on 3-5 April 2019. If you have a case study example of how you were able to navigate the complexities, technologies, and organizational challenges faced by the modern marketer, then submit your idea via this online form by 15 November. Keep in mind that the agenda includes both 45 minute and 20-minute sessions.

Lunchtime Learning: When the Bloomberg Global Business Forum was created in 2017, its goal was to bring together politicians and the world’s most prominent business leaders to tackle weighty issues such as how to “construct a new multilateral economic order to solve the challenges that led to the unraveling of so many twentieth-century assumptions and institutions.” This year’s gathering, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, took place in New York City on September 26th alongside the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. Get a glimpse of the topics covered and speakers who took the dais as video of the sessions are now available for your viewing pleasure. Featured speakers include UK Prime Minister Theresa May, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Baidu’s CEO Robin Li and, of course, Michael Bloomberg.

Coming Up Next Week: What do Shaq, Richard Branson, and the mayor of Dallas have in common? All will be featured at Money20/20, which runs 21-24 October in Las Vegas and brings the fintech ecosystem together around a common goal: to create a simpler and more inclusive financial system. Fast Company’s Innovation Festival gets underway 22 October in New York and promises “bold talks” and a “bustling festival hub” for 10,000 attendees hailing from diverse backgrounds and industries. Digitally-minded professionals from across the world will meet at Crowdsourcing Week Global (24-28 October; Washington, DC) to hear from experts using crowdsourcing, open innovation, and crowdfunding to advance business goals and organizational missions alike. Looking to accelerate your business with AI? Then head to VentureBeat Summit on 22 October in Mill Valley, CA where 180 senior executives will meet to learn from peers on AI and machine learning breakthroughs. Later in the week CMOs flock to Orlando, where the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Masters of Marketing Annual Conference is held 24-27 October.

And last but not least, catch Speaker Strategies’ very own Amy Scarlino when she addresses The Professional Speechwriters Association World Conference on 23 October in Washington DC!