on target with the client before I dive
directly into a ground-up talk. A systematic process can
help keep you on
track to build a talk
that is highly relevant to the audience in a logical
and sequential way.
I always ask my clients four basic
questions as part of my pre-event prep:
• Have I properly branded the initia-
tive in a way that speaks to the
needs, problems and opportunities
of the audience or stakeholder?
• Are the training objectives meaningful and measurable?
• Have I clearly articulated the
expected outcome of the training
• Have I leveraged game mechanics
and socialization to significantly
improve measurable results?
3Devote time to understand the audience’s unique needs. Recently, I did a presentation for a
pharmaceutical company on the future
of digital strategies. In preparation for
this talk, I had six two-hour meetings
with their team. For many, this is quite
the controversy—putting that much
time and effort into a talk. But you cannot drive engagement without understanding the audience’s unique and
Don’t limit pre-event meetings
based on some arbitrary number. Provide as many meetings as necessary to
meet your client’s strategy. That pharmaceutical company loved my talk and
booked me for two more events.
4It’s not about content. It’s about strategy. It took me way too long to learn
this valuable lesson. Most of my bookings are keynote presentations, stuffed
Drive Audience Engagement
One of my most amazing experiences happened when I worked with a software company that wanted to
teach its stakeholders the principles of
innovation. We invited the company’s team
to Children’s Hospital in Scottsdale, Ariz.,
for the presentation.
I walked to the front of the room, sat on a
barstool and explained the principles of
innovation in a very conversational manner.
At the end of my talk, I challenged the group
to teach the kids in the hospital how to invent the world's best marshmallow launcher.
It sounds crazy, but the kids had a blast,
and my audience members had the most
moving experience of their lives.
After the presentation, the software
company team shared the power and
valuable takeaways of the meeting.
Clearly, taking risks to go beyond
the expected is the only way to
drive the kind of engagement
you need to move an audience.