BY JASON HEWLETT, CSP, CPAE
As professional speakers, we all know we need to person- alize our presentation—whether it’s a keynote, breakout, or training session—to meet each specific audience’s
goals and needs. But there are other important ways to customize
your content that truly take place in the moment. These on-the-fly techniques can get your audience members’ attention and help
make you more relatable. Here’s an example.
In early October, I took the stage and spoke for 15 minutes
about observations that were customized to the event, location,
and the other environmental factors, including:
The distance of the room from the lobby being longer than my
The distance of the room from the oceanfront, as the event
was in Hawaii
My more formal stage attire compared with the attendees’
The filling buffet and costume dance party the night before
The time change
Funny signature characteristics of the location
I worked all of this in before launching into the meat of my
material. And the customized bits landed perhaps better than
my best stuff!
How to take customization
to the next level
Be in the
ENERGIZING AND ENGAGING
At the beginning of my career, I thought customizing a presentation
meant inserting a new word, such as “customer” in place of “client,”
depending on the preferred nomenclature.
Once I graduated from that level, I was able to tailor stories
used mostly for “customer service” into a leadership, front-line, or
engagement piece, depending on the need of the conference theme.
Those are now a given, as is the conference call with the client
to ensure I have their language down and understand their needs.
However, now that I’ve been doing this for two decades, I can
struggle onstage with feeling like everything is a bit too much the
same as last time.
When I feel that way, it has been a great practice to knock myself
out of my comfort zone by jumping into the void of customization on
the fly. It energizes me to present what I know always kills, but then
to be present enough to add on the customized pieces that will never