I regularly speak to groups of all sizes and knowledge levels about social media marketing, and one of the biggest challenges is keeping a presentation relevant to those who are new to social media, while creating value for those who are already experienced.
We’ve all had the experience of sitting through a presentation that was WAY TO BASIC for us, and it sucks. I’ve also had the experience of sitting through a presentation that used acronyms and jargon where I had NO CLUE what the presentation was even about.
The key to success as a professional speaker is to make sure that your presentation includes exciting and advanced opportunities that you are excited about, while taking the time to explain the basics to those in the audience who may be new.
Why Asking People If They Know Something Doesn’t Work
Here is the problem. Many speakers will ask questions like “Are you familiar with blah blah blah” or “Raise your hand if you haven’t heard of Blah Blah Blah.”
The problem is that conference attendees don’t want to appear stupid. So if you imply that they should know something, they aren’t going to admit that they don’t know it. Also, in general. people hate having to raise their hand during a presentation.
The key to success is……
Creating quick and simple explanations for the key things that people might not be aware of.
“A retwet in Twitter is a way to repost something to your followers – like forwarding an email”
“SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is about getting to the top of Google Search results to get more traffic to your website”
Each of these examples could easily become long 10 minute explanations, however you will lose the intermediate and advanced audiences if you dwell on them. That being said, you can meet the needs of both – explain to new users and get to the actual tip you are trying to share – if you prepare short explanations of key concepts in advance.
Have The Experienced Ones Participate
Another way to engage the audience is to have the experienced members participate to keep them interested and engaged. We know that interactive presentations and workshops help people to learn. Encouraging the seasoned members to participate keeps them engaged and makes them feel good. Finding ways to allow the audience to participate can keep everyone in your audience more engaged.
Know the Audience in Advanced
When we do corporate training workshops we usually create a pre-survey assessment for an organization. This allows us to know their skill level. We also ask conference organizers what the current skill level is. This helps us to know the audience and prepare the right information.
Decide if Questions will Help or Hurt
Allowing questions during your presentation can help or hurt, depending on the flow and the audience. In particular, when the audience has vastly different knowledge levels, questions can be difficult. For example, an advanced user may ask a question about a specific tool. In order to answer the question in a way that is relevant for everyone, you may have to provide a 10 minute explanation on the basics.
Alternately, if beginner users ask questions they may be asking things that are very specific and detailed, which can derail the presentation. For example, asking the specifics about privacy settings in Facebook, or exactly how something works.
If you do decide to take questions, always stay in control of the Q&A and be sure to provide the relevant background to make both the question and the answer relevant for the entire audience. Be sure to answer the question fully, but also be cognizant of the different education levels, and consider how deep you are willing to go.
Preparation is Key
The single most important thing is to prepare your presentation for the right audience. Do your homework upfront and make sure that you know your audience. Some conferences can poll their audience. You can also ask to connect with other speakers, or people who know the audience better than you do. The more prepared you are the easier it is to be successful.