I love attending conferences, seminars, workshops and classes. I am a life long learner who has done things like audit 5 semesters of Greek…for fun. But do you know what I love possibly even more than learning great content from the events I attend? Learning from the presenters. I learn something from every single seminar or class I attend. (Admittedly, occasionally I learn what NOT to do, but I can still always learn something.)
Last week I attended a large DJ industry show in Las Vegas called Mobile Beat. I taught one 3 hour workshop on Monday, but the rest of the 4 days I was there primarily as a student. I was a “business owner student” looking for inspiration and ideas that will help me run my business better. And I was also a “speaker student” watching each presenter as he took the stage, analyzing content, delivery, and audience connection.
There were many great speakers…including the one and only John Taffer, and Mr. Party Rock himself, Red Foo of LAFMO. But there was one seminar that will stay with me longer than all the others. It could be because it was given by my business partner and best friend. It could be because I had the privilege of having a front row seat not just during the seminar itself, but also during the months leading up to it. And it could simply be because Mitch Taylor knocked it out of the park in his delivery last Tuesday.
As I analyze the presentation I think there were three main factors that contributed to such a successful seminar (BESIDES talent and skill!).
The first was preparation. Even those who didn’t have the opportunity to watch one of the MANY rehearsals in the weeks prior to the conference, like I did, could tell that Mitch knew his material. Not only did he know the content because he created the concept himself (ROAR: Risk, Opportunity, Action, Reward…all him) he really knew it because he practiced. He knew which stories he was going to tell when. He knew the examples he would share, the calls to action that he would offer, and how he would transition from one point to the next. Flawless delivery doesn’t happen because of luck.
The second was interaction…planned, intentional and appropriate interaction. There were approximately 1000 people in the audience. Yet, Mitch somehow managed to include them all. He told personal stories that they could relate to. And they responded.
Mitch also skillfully created other opportunities for audience members to be involved. See the strategically placed gift box on the table in front of the stage? At a predetermined moment when Mitch told his audience that they must choose to take ACTION, a spotlight illuminated the box and one lucky audience member left with a very nice prize pack.
More opportunities to participate were offered through the Make a Meme contest.
Throughout the presentation audience members were encouraged to make a meme using a quote or “nugget” from the seminar and share it on his Sales is Solutions Facebook page with #TimeToROAR. A lot of great memes were submitted and a second lucky individual won a prize pack when the winning meme was announced near the end of the presentation. People were engaged – taking pictures, taking notes, and making memes.
The third contributing factor that I really noticed was Mitch’s vulnerability. He was willing to be real. He talked about some of his mentors and heroes who helped him get to the place he is now. But he did it such a way that encouraged those of us listening to pursue some of the same training opportunities so we could grow in those areas as well. Mitch also showed emotion. Because he was so well rehearsed, he was “free” to truly be in the moment with us as he shared memorable and touching stories about personal experiences and special moments with clients…like this letter he read to us from the mother of one of his brides. Being this real is powerful.
Whether you are speaking to a small group of friends, MCing an event for a client and their guests, or speaking to an audience of a thousand of your peers, being prepared, interactive, and vulnerable will help you truly connect with your audience.
Note: Photos 1, 2 & 5 in this post were taken by Edyta Sokolowska of Exceed Photography. Thank you, Edyta!