I just got back from one of my favorite conferences of the year. It's a conference of professional women – around 2600 of them, and it's non-stop fun for me as a motivational speaker. First off, let me say how grateful I am that this was the 9th year in a row that I've presented to this group. So, just for that reason, it's one of my favorite conferences. Now, people ask me why they keep inviting me back. I hope it's because I offer value presented in a way that connects with my audience. Then, I began to wonder what I do with this conference that maybe I could duplicate with other audiences as well. The feedback I kept getting from board members and long term attendees was how well I connected with my audience. I thought about it and wanted to share the things I did and maybe you could do too.
1. Show up early
If it's at all possible, I attend the whole conference so I can hear what's going on and use some of the insights in my presenation. Some people even commented that the quotes from the main stage were put into my powerpoint as a way to tie in what they heard from the keynote into my breakout session.
2. Set the tone
When people come to my session, they know they are in for a treat. I have jammin music playing and I'm walking around shaking hands and thanking them for coming to my session. I know some speakers just wait back stage or wait for the introducer to introduce them, but not me. I tell the introducer that I'm meeting my peeps so don't wait for me to start the intro. When it's time, I'll get back to the front- but I want to greet as many people as possible.
3. Thank them
There is usually waiting list to get into my session so I go out and thank them for their patience and re-assure them that we're doing everything possible to get them into the room.
I know this isn't possible for all events, but I like to attend a participate in as many events as possible. Even though my session wasn't until 4:00 pm, I was presentation ready by 8am to see the opening general session. This works for me on so many levels – re-connecting with past attendees, getting to know new board members, solidifying relationships, while hearing what everyone else is hearing from main-stage speakers. This paid off in a more direct way this past week. A senior vice president of a company greeted me with 'I want to buy you!'. Confused and flattered at the same time, I had to ask what he meant. He was having a reception with all of his employees that were attending the conference and he wanted to buy my coaching services and give it away to one lucky winner at this reception! Brilliant idea! I'm not sure he would have gone out of his way to find me to ask me if this was possible had I not been in that general session. As it turns out, I texted my agent who put together a nice certificate for the winner stating what she won and e-mailed it directly to Kinkos Fed-Ex that was in the hotel. I had them print it, laminate it and at lunch, I presented him with a beautiful piece that he could hand over to the winner that night.
4. Stand out then fit in
I know, this sounds like a contradiction. But when I am networking and attending sessions I wear very bright colors so that I stand out in a crowd. This can be hard when you are mingling with 2600 professional women! I chose bright green, blue and white which stood out in a sea of black and grey suits. Then, on the final night, I wore the conference T-shirt that everyone got when they arrived. At this point, my session is over and I'm hanging out with everyone – so now I want to portray the fact that I am one of them. Not everyone chose to wear their conference Tee at the party, but I noticed all the board members did.
I guess the point of my blog is if you want to engage with your audience and your client, then be engaged in the event. Of course, knock it out of the park with your presentation, then add these extra touches and pay attention to what works for you.
From your grateful to connect with my peeps motivational speaker, Marilyn Sherman