Does your session follow the keynote speaker or are you the set-up for the 20 year-old Swedish YouTube sensation?
Turn your speaking slot that sets up or follows a main attraction-type session into an advantage. Never view this situation as a negative as you will likely benefit from more attendees in your session, a more engaged audience, or both.
The first step is simply being aware of the other presenters speaking around your session. Review the conference agenda and try to find out more about these speakers or meet and get to know them if possible.
Try and attend the conference’s speaker reception (if they have one), usually held the night before the event begins. Not only can you make long-lasting friendships, meet well-known speakers but also find out things that will help your session be more successful.
At an event in Stockholm, I discovered by spending time with the moderator of the track I was speaking in that a 20 year-old YouTube sensation named Clara Henry was following me. Oh great I thought. When I got back to my hotel room I watched a few of her videos (and did find one in English) and got a sense of what she was about.
I did 3 things once armed with some background:
1. I referenced her a few times early in my session as she was sitting in the front row.
2. I added some text on one of my slides that had a screen capture of one of my own YouTube videos saying: “Almost as cute as Clara Henry.” It was a throwaway line, but it got a chuckle from many in the audience.
3. I added a screen capture of one of Clara’s videos and used it as a way to set up a section of my presentation that was making the point that brands needed to use more personality and humor in their marketing.
By incorporating these few simple techniques into my presentation I had fun with the fact that I was being followed by a much more popular speaker, but I also turned it into positive benefit.
What have you done to acknowledge that you were the set up for the main attraction?