June 13, 2007

World Tea Expo, part 2

Following up on the previous post about my World Tea Expo speaker/attendee experience...

One thing the organizers should have paid attention to was the lighting. As the rooms were cavernous and lit only from the ceiling, most of the speakers were in dim lighting, if not completely in the dark. Some spot lighting would have helped.

I also had some difficulty with my room setup. The day before my seminar, I looked at the room where I'd be speaking and discovered that there was only enough space on the podium for a table and a lectern, meaning that I would have to stand behind the furniture. That's not my style - and it doesn't fit with what I teach in my seminar - so I spoke to one of the staff in the speaker room about moving either the lectern or the table, and she promised to pass it along.

When I arrived at my room the next day, there was no one there to move anything. I had been told the table couldn't be moved because it was hiding numerous cables - or else I would have done it myself!

After setting up the computer and mic, the sound guy evaluated the situation and determined that it would be easier to move the table than the lectern, and ended up doing it himself. With just fifteen minutes between seminars, this could have been handled better.

However, we finished the setup just in time to start the seminar, and I got to use the story in my section on preparation, so it all worked out!

One panel discussion with six speakers was so packed with content that they ran out of time. The moderator, who punctuated each and every panelist response with "Excellent" before moving onto the next, was unable to keep the speakers to their time. The audience agreed to save Q & A for after the allotted seminar time, which meant that many of us who had appointments or engagements right after the seminar had to miss out.

The PowerPoint associated with this panel discussion was simple and used just to display bios of the speakers, photos of their shops, and each question that was posed to the panel. Unfortunately, the PowerPoint had several egregious typos that should have been fixed. Unprofessional and distracting.

Three of the six seminars I attended had PowerPoint presentations with too much text, inconsistent text size/color/font, chaotic images, or all three.

One speaker not only read his PowerPoint word for word in a monotone, but also read his notes on the computer in front of him word for word. Hubby and I couldn't take it and left early (the good thing about a trade show is that lots of people have lots of appointments and if someone gets up early to leave a seminar, no one really notices).

Of the seminars with good content, two were damaged for me by speakers with poor skills or odd habits. One was the monotone PowerPoint-reader above.

The other speaker had great material, energy, voice, movement and engagement with the audience - until she amused herself so much that she broke out into a shrill, high-pitched cackle that was so magnified by the microphone that it nearly popped my eardrums.

While she was cackling, she was also still speaking, unintelligibly - in that same high-pitched voice. It was like she had two personalities on the stage. Unfortunately, she broke out into this cackle/talk/cackle thing frequently during the presentation, which really distracted from her great content.

Another speaker had great content and excellent delivery, except that she seemed blatantly to be promoting her business and products. It's a rule of the Expo that presentations be purely educational, but on top of that, I just don't like listening to a commercial disguised as an educational presentation.

I always learn so much from watching other speakers (both good and bad) and this conference was loaded with lessons. More lessons to remember later!

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

jewellspring said...

Lisa, thank you for sharing about your experience. Did any of those you mentioned attend YOUR seminar? Hope so!

I love the taped latch idea~I know I'll use that one in the future.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

You know, TPG, the ONE question I forgot to ask the audience was "how many of you are speaking at this conference?" I realized afterward that I had no idea if any of the speakers were in my room.

I just recently read about the taped latch trick, and I was happy to be the one who suggested it to the organizers - after the first excruciating seminar of the weekend where people continued to drift in well past the halfway mark. AND the door was locked, so there had to be a monitor sitting by the door to let everyone in. They resolved it by the second seminar. Whew!

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