© Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

How to improve the User Experience of Conference Speeches

Getting the message across

Author: Annette Hexelschneider, expert for effective knowledge

Innovative formats and venues - the event sector is changing. All is well? Or is something still amiss?

Keynotes and speeches won’t vanish. They will still be part of any agenda alongside new formats. But speeches need to keep evolving. How many PowerPoint slides can and will your audience accept today? No, this is no PowerPoint bashing, but only a suitable amount of slides leads to a good user experience.

The following tips can help your experts reach their audience. And the success of knowledge transfer contributes to success of the business event overall. Most speakers will welcome useful tips. If not all of them see the benefit, be patient: pull not push may be the helpful strategy here.

Tip 1: Receiving more attention with well-prepared content

Information regarding your SMART event goal and the audience background will guide your speakers when selecting and preparing their content. You may encourage them to focus on their key messages, too. This will increase the chance that the audience can remember them.

You could also guide your speakers towards transferring the minimum effective knowledge dose necessary for understanding and inform them about the maximum amount of text for a slide and its type size so that it is still readable even in the last rows. Or suggest alternatives to text. Inform them what worked well with the event target groups last time. Let them know which media possibilities during their speech are possible at your venue.

This does not mean that they have to forgo content. “Nice-to-have-knowledge” can be shared in the speech and transferred through the handout.

Tip 2: Staying on track and showing appreciation for the audience with interaction during the speech

Interaction activates. With easy-to-use apps you can use:

  • Voting: „Am I too fast?“ „Shall I explain more?“ „We still have time, how shall I use it?“
  • Questions for the speaker: “How can your theory be applied in real life?”
  • Answers for the speaker: „How would you proceed now, with a), b) or c)?“ „What are your experiences?“

Traditional methods are - depending on the situation - still useful, e.g. venue microphones. Or participants “answer” questions by getting up from their seats. This method activates the audience and helps the speaker connect with it.

Annette Hexelschneider, © Thomas Lieser

Annette Hexelschneider (www.wissendenken.com) is an expert for effective knowledge. Conference planners can find her tips on Medium.

Her credo is: “Knowledge is a valuable resource. But its is worthless without creative processing.” The necessary steps are: filtering complex knowledge for relevance, visualizing it and transferring it, so that your target group can use it. Annette teaches the necessary skills to knowledge intensive firms and organisations.

An MA of Engineering, she applies her diverse experience in working with and for knowledge in Germany, Austria and beyond – in German and English.

Hand-Out Example; © Hexelschneider

Tipp 3: Getting remembered, the enduring handout

A good speaker will be remembered. What helps on slides - not too much content - may render the handout unhelpful, because the speaker’s voice-over is missing. So add some “voice-over”. For instance with

  • an enriched table of contents,
  • a one-pager with text and visualizations prefacing the presentation (the advanced organizer)
  • well structured additions to the slides.

Even better: content from the slides and visualizations can be copied easily into a text document. This results in a good overview and content that can be remembered. Useful additional annexes and references to digital resources add value, too.

These three easy steps lead to an improved user experience. But don’t stop here. Grow with your speakers and learn what went well and what can be further improved. And observe your competition. It will lead to continuing improvement of your conference speeches and of your business events.