Audience Requests For Our Keynote Speaker

Dear Keynote Speaker,

For a variety of reasons, I’m sitting in the last row of your keynote speech. Sitting in the back of your presentation is no reflection on you. Seriously, the presentation title looks great, and your bio? I can’t believe the awards you’ve won! Wow! This should absolutely be the perfect keynote to open the conference. Just what we need to hear!

Only problem is, it turns out your perfectly-titled keynote speech has nothing to do with those of us in the audience. Kind of makes it hard to take notes about your presentation which will be of any benefit later.

So since you’ve elected to leave us, the audience, out of your presentation, the least I can do is share the notes your keynote presentation DID prompt me to take.

And no surprise…all the notes are about YOU, keynote leader – your favorite topic! Here YOU go:

  • Don’t have all the lights turned off and do your presentation in the dark. Your videos may look better, but you’ve become invisible before you’ve even started.
  • Don’t pass on using a microphone.
  • Don’t neglect to set up and explain what you’re going to be talking about today.
  • Don’t have so many slides about your resume. You’re the keynote speaker. I trust the conference organizers to have picked somebody who’s qualified.
  • Don’t let it appear you typically type up your presentation right before you start.
  • Don’t make us feel like we’re on the outside looking in during this self-exploration of your own career. BTW, there’s a more descriptive word for “self-exploration” I chose not to use. But I think you know what I’m talking about.
  • Don’t talk over the talking in the video you’re playing. Now there are two things going on that make no sense.
  • Don’t use such small type or put your main messages at the bottom of your PowerPoint slides. This room has a really low ceiling, so none of us in the back of the room are seeing any of your most important points.
  • Don’t tell me about things so specialized that I can’t ever do them, ever dream about doing them, or even ever learn something usable from you talking about them.
  • Don’t fail to at least articulate the lessons you’ve learned if all you’re going to do is talk about yourself.
  • Don’t forget to involve the audience. At this point, asking us questions would really help your presentation pull out of this tailspin. Yes, trust me – it’s in a tailspin. I just peeked at the horrendous things people are already writing on the sheets they gave us to rate your presentation.
  • Don’t tell me how important emotion is and then not convey ANY emotion in your presentation. Or show an excruciatingly long video you claim credit for which is totally bereft of emotion as well.
  • Don’t forget to be human. And humble. And funny is not so bad either. Be ALL of those things in your next presentation.
  • Don’t be surprised we’re sitting here, in the dark, frustrated out of our minds in silence.
  • Don’t make me do all the work to figure out what your presentation is about.
  • Don’t get through your whole speech with nothing for the audience to take away and use.

That last comment probably wasn’t fair. Because looking back, I did take a lot away: this lengthy list of things to never do as a presenter.

The amazing thing though is I’d bet a lot of money you’d never suspect you were guilty of any of these. But you were. And I’d guess it’s not the first time…and you’re definitely not the first person to do any of them.

Yet, I can’t remember anyone doing ALL of them at the same time in one presentation. So congratulations on that! Maybe you could add that accomplishment to your resume slides.

Better yet, how about taking these admonitions to heart and really embracing them (okay maybe a couple – let’s start small) the next time you do a keynote presentation? If you do that, I’ll know at least someone got something they could use from the 50-minutes of wasted time all of us had to sit through today.

The best from back here in the dark,


IMAGE VIA: batmoo