Thanks for agreeing to be a speaker at this EA User Group. We’ve been running these for a few years now, so we think it’s time to pull together all that experience into some guidance notes for speakers. Feel free to ignore any or all of them: they aren’t a condition of speaking, just some ideas we’d like you to think about.
Remember, this is a friendly audience. Most people will be EA users just like you, so they are already on your side. They are interested to hear what you have to say.
So the guidance notes:
- If you’re talking about solving a problem, please make sure your audience understand that problem first.
- Think about what your audience already know. They WILL know EA, but maybe not the exact bit you’re talking about. Ground your talk in ideas they already know, only then move them on to the thing you want to talk about
- Tell stories, not theories
- Keep to one idea. This is especially important if you’re doing a short TED-style talk. Too many ideas in a short time is confusing for everyone
- Have a look at this video – excellent advice for all speakers everywhere
- Please look at the audience, and ask them questions. It gets them involved, and lets you check they are ‘getting it’.
- Remember that in most user groups, some delegates might not speak your language. So be kind to them. Don’t use idioms or words & expressions they might not understand. Keep the language simple. Good advice even if everyone speaks your language.
- Questions. A good question which is well answered can hugely improve your talk. A bad one, poorly answered can suck the life out of it. Think how/when you’ll handle questions. Note that if you say ‘questions at the end’ this will frustrate most listeners, and they may well ignore it anyway.
- Give them a ‘take away’ at the end. Not a balloon and some cake, but a thing to do, something to read, an action they can take themselves.
- Don’t be dull. Try out your talk on someone else first. If they think it’s dull, chances are the User Groupies will as well.
- Don’t sell them stuff - obviously. If you’re talking about a ‘thing’ which is for sale, that’s OK, so long as it not too in-your-face. There should be interest for those who don’t want to buy the thing.
- Don’t read the slides. See (Don'ts no.1). Slides are to help you remember what to say, they are not your script.
- Don’t tell us about your life story, your organisation structure and goals. We’ve had a few speakers who spent 39 minutes on this, then were shocked when they were asked to wrap-up. Yes, this really has happened.
- Don’t ‘wing’ the technology. If you need to use technology test it. Then test it again. Make sure you have a backup if it doesn’t work. We’ve had some wonderful, memorable ‘doing it on the fly’ live demonstrations, but they need practice.
And finally - remember to enjoy yourself! And don't forget, EA Users are looking forward to meeting you and hearing your ideas...