I have a confession. I once overslept at a conference and missed some of a keynote address that I had planned to write about. I arrived late, with wet hair and a caffeine-deprivation headache, and began taking notes just as the speaker said, “and the third thing to consider…”
Fortunately, I was able to find the entire presentation online. That allowed me to cover the first two things I missed and pause the video at the slides that flashed past too quickly in real life to absorb. Which begs the question: why show up for a live event if you can just YouTube it? Sarah Michel, CSP, vice president of professional connexity at Velvet Chainsaw, says any speaker charging more than $5,000 will have video footage online for review. But, she asks, with access to so much content online, where is the fear of missing out that drives attendance to live events?
One of the best ways to create FOMO is to hire speakers who involve the audience in a way that will stay with them long after the conference is over. In our March issue, we highlight nine interactive speakers who make their audiences experience the event, rather than passively listen. One keynoter has the audience adopt a fictional disability to feel the frustration of struggling to communicate. Another leads the audience through laughter exercises to demonstrate the link between the physical and the emotional—and to kick off the conference with a belly laugh.
The value in interactive speakers is not just to get your attendees to say to their colleagues, “You had to be there,” although that’s probably the best marketing you can get, but science says that heightened emotions help the brain retain information for the long term.
If it wouldn’t be appropriate to hire a laughter therapist or orchestra conductor for your event, check out our advice on helping your own speakers actively engage the audience, and also get tips on finding the funds to pay for the speakers your audience deserves.
One last thing: If you are stuck with a keynoter who has a 90-slide PowerPoint and can’t engage with the audience, do us all a favor and schedule a later start time so we can pick up a coffee first.