July 28, 2016

You're not just competing with other speakers



In the entrepreneurial world, and especially in the speaking and coaching worlds, we like to say "There is no competition." You see, we all have something unique to offer, we each have a unique voice and message, and no one else can do what we do in exactly the same way we do it. And this is true. But...

When you're speaking at a conference, you actually do have competition. Conference attendees will choose which breakout sessions to attend based on the description of your workshop and their needs and goals. Sometimes you know in advance how many people will attend your session, because pre-registration is required. And sometimes, attendees make up their minds at the last minute, because they don't have to pre-register, meaning that you have no idea who will attend your session.

On Monday, I attended a breakout at the National Speakers Association convention that seemed like a good fit for me. The topic seemed interesting, and I thought it might take me in a new direction in my business. But I was wrong. The workshop description wasn't really accurate, and after about 30 minutes, I realized I wasn't going to get what I needed from the session. So I left.

But here's the thing: I didn't go to another session. By that point, all of the other sessions were halfway over. So I sat in the main convention gathering area, the "hallway," if you will, and looked for people to talk to.

Over the course of the four-day convention, I actually attended very few sessions. I've paid for the recordings, and when they arrive, I'll go through and listen to the most intriguing sessions that I missed. Guess what I was doing instead of attending sessions: I was growing my business through hallway conversations.

What speakers don't realize in conference settings is that the attendees are not just choosing between sessions. They are choosing between sessions and conversations. While I was missing sessions, I was connecting, learning and building my business.

Hallway conversations are a powerful - and not to be overlooked - part of conferences that are equally compelling to many attendees as your breakout session.

When you create your session description, make sure to consider that you are not just looking to attract people to your session over the other sessions, but that you are also looking to attract people to a session AT ALL. 

If hallway conversations are more attractive than what you're offering - whether because you haven't properly tailored your content to the group, or you haven't described it well, or you do a poor job of delivering your message or engaging the audience during the session - you will lose potential and actual audience members to the hallway.

The competition isn't what you think it is. Prepare accordingly.


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