This post is part of a series about interactivity in meetings “When Everybody Contributes, You Get Awesome Results: Boost Interactivity In Your Meetings, Trainings and Events!”. The introduction is here.
Attendees come for good content. That’s why they are here. That’s your promise. You feel you have to feed them with content, a lot of content. Their time is valuable, they must feel every minute is used to its max. So you fill the agenda. More is better, right?
Great speakers were a pain to gather, you suffered enough for that! You must therefore give them all the time they want to speak.
From good will, you end up with a packed agenda.
I attended a few weeks ago a one-day business conference: high-end, full of energy, with a strong willingness to make the event interactive and make the participants collaborate.
They scheduled their speakers every 20 min in the morning, the rule being 15 min speech, 5 min Q&A.
What do you think happened? First speakers slipped by 7 minutes. After the third speaker, they were 22 minutes late. Out of 17 questions gathered live, they answered only one. The stats showed a quick decrease in interactive comments posted.
At first they killed the Q&A sessions to catch up. Then they shortened the breaks. This is the perfect recipe to kill interactivity and networking!!
All studies show that people attend events for the content but are satisfied when they network and meet with their peers. Beware! A packed agenda is the best way to fail at interactivity and networking.
One of our client in postal services plans internal seminars every month. Same format, repeatedly. One day, one of the speakers canceled at the last-minute.
No available replacement… it was a disaster! So attendees had an additional 40-minute break.
Guess which event got the best rating in the satisfaction surveys? This one! Attendees just loved it.
MASTER THE CLOCK
Now you should get pretty confident that a fair amount of time needs to be devoted to interactivity between the stage and the audience. But how much is a fair amount of time?
Let’s say you devote 30% and no questions pop up, not a single one. What would you do?
Let’s say you just allocate 5 min, and there are a lot of questions left unanswered. How do you cope with attendees’ frustration?
Here are some good tricks that have proven to work on the field.
Consider a 1-hour speech for simplicity. For good interactivity, we advise the following:
- The speaker talks 40 minutes, with 2 “breathings” after 20 and 30 minutes. He/she must be able to stop and answer a major question at that stage. This must be similar to funny speakers that give time to people for laughing after each hilarious sentence.
- Ask the speaker to provide 2 prepared questions, that will be asked by accomplices in the room if there are not enough questions from the audience. He/she may have some slides for them. Typically 2 x 5 min.
- The last 20 minutes are therefore dedicated to Q&A, with questions either from the audience or planned, according to their relevance.
This is an easy way to allow for interactivity while mastering the schedule. A lot of questions from the audience? The speaker’s questions are skipped. Not enough? The schedule will be filled properly anyway.
REACH NEW LEVELS OF SUCCESS WITH INTERACTIVITY
Oh by the way, there are a lot more possibilities of interaction than Q&A! We will analyze them in Key #4: User Adoption Requires Very Simple Things.
Great speakers will shine from interaction and enhanced Q&A. They have less to prepare, engage their audience more, and get more of it.
With advanced technology like ConnexMe, they will have a lot of feedback on their own presentation. Ever noticed how little feedback a speaker gets? This is changing, and they will be really thankful to you.
Plan time for interactivity and enforce it, at least 20% of time. Ask your speaker for prepared questions to be asked, and schedule long networking breaks plus frequent “buffer” breaks in case the schedule slips.
As you see, the first key is a matter of planning, adoption and good practices.