OK, ironclad is probably a bit strong. I can’t speak for every presenter, but this is what I aim to do.
1. Tell the story visually. Rich imagery, videos, sound, infographics. No stock photos. No word slides. It’s a presentation, not an eye test.
2. Curate the most important ideas and provide context. I want to bring my audiences the best thinking on the things that fascinate and inspire me; trends, technology, automation, groundbreaking commercial disruptors, social and economic shifts… I’m happy to shamelessly aggregate the latest books, stats and strategies offered by the world’s greatest minds – all fully credited of course – so long as I’m able to place this thinking in a broader context.
3. Being there, in the room, in that moment, needs to feel special. If you don’t feel like you’re missing something by watching a stream as opposed to sitting in the audience then something’s not working. Every speaker will have their own way of addressing this, for me it means:
Don’t have a script. Never do the same talk twice. Customise for each and every event, be in the moment, reacting to the audience.
4. Be controversial. There’s an elephant in every room. Everyone knows it. So far I’ve got away with it, and been seen as fresh air.
5. Be honest. Exponential technological change is transforming our world in incredibly profound ways. Don’t skim over the more worrying implications of these changes for fear of being perceived to be doom-monger. If it’s your opinion, share it. Pivot from discomfort to inspiration with practical strategies and tactics to meet the challenges and come out on top.
6. Use interactive polling systems like Slido. I’m talking about innovations and trends that are going to completely reshape the business landscape and have 200 CEOs in front of me, all of them with an opinion, all of them with phones in their pockets. Who wouldn’t want to find out what they’re thinking?
7. Big conference presentations are a great opportunity to unlock technically complex information for a lot of people, all at once. I don’t do jargon. The technical details of how an innovation works are important, but understanding the principles at play and, ultimately, what it means for the world, is far, far more important (and much less boring).
8. This is a two-parter:
8a. Delegates need to leave with at least one mindblowing nugget that they find themselves recounting at every office, restaurant and bar they find themselves in for the next month.
8b. Delegates also need to leave with at least THREE doables. Powerful ideas are powerful precisely because they change behaviour and inspire Action.
9. Wear colour. Be expressive. Smile. Why not stand out from the sea of grey suits?