On a recent night out with a group of girl friends we got round to talking about on line dating. One of the ladies who is single was regaling us with her tales of dates she had experienced. These ranged from dates not turning up, dates who proposed on first date, dates who spent all night talking about their exes and dates who were positively creepy and forever to be avoided in future. But the most common type of date apparently is the date that does not resemble in one iota the profile submitted on line. Men who were considerably older than the ‘30’ they claimed to be. Men whose silky brown locks had greyed and thinned somewhat since the profile photo was posted. Men who maybe had sucked in their tummies while the photographer had clicked away.
What has this to do with a conference line up? At a conference a few months ago the word on the ground was that people were generally unhappy with the speakers at a large and influential conference. The reason? Visitors had looked through the programme and identified the presentations with exciting and stimulating content based on the jazzy and pithy and sometimes intriguing titles. The problem was that when they turned up at the presentation itself, the content did not live up the title. People felt let down. Misled. Cheated. And the most interesting thing about this story is that even when the presentation and the speaker were actually very good, where people felt their expectations of the title hadn’t been met, they still went away feeling disappointed.
Now I am all for creating a headline and a title that will prompt people to walk into the auditorium in a state of anticipation and trusting that the content is just right for them. It is just that you have to be able to live up those expectations. The material and the delivery need to match the headline. And if you have deliberately ramped up the level of energy in the room through the pull-in title alone, then you definitely need to have the energy, skills and structure to capitalise on that as you stand and speak. In the words you use, the models you create, the links you make and the references you build on.
As my friend said about on line dating – if you can’t trust someone to say honestly who they are right from the start then there is little hope for the relationship later on. At best it is a joke and at worse it is a failure of trust. In presentations your audience need know you are credible and that includes how you ‘sell’ your presentation.
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