Gimmicks, Gadgets & the Buzz Factor

Gimmicks, Gadgets & the Buzz Factor

At a recent three-day convention, I was slated to present the opening keynote for the next day and a workshop on communication the third day. It has always been my practice when time permitted, to come in a day early so I could hear other speakers, feel the energy of the group and if there is another main speaker, to make sure that I hear him or her.

It allows me to observe audience reaction to the speaker and the topic as well as the opportunity to link what I say with some theme within the speaker’s talk. Sure enough, I did alter part of my presentation—her theme was all about change. My keynote would be around the title of one of my books, Stabotage! How to Deal with Pit Bulls, Skunks, Snakes, Scorpions & Slugs in the Health Care Workplace. Within that talk, I always reference change—it’s one of the factors that seeds conflict.

The speaker had looked good. Loved her colors and the way she interacted with others before she began her program. And then all the gimmicks came out. Special lighting, video, hiding gadgets within the audience, audience participation and moving around—lots of bells and whistles.  Now, I love gadgets and gimmicks … I just don’t want to be OD’d with them. What was cute in the beginning became downright tiresome, almost boring. As I watched and listened, I felt that her talk had been given so many times and that the choreography of it and her body movements were so canned that she could be having an out of body experience and still do her talk. I came away with, “I’ve heard this a zillion times feeling.” Hmmmm.

The next day, I was up early and so were 400 attendees. They were energetic and enthusiastic. Some were life-long friends within the nursing profession and multi-meeting attendees; others were new to the conference. I loved their buzz and watching them with their greetings and interactions with each other. What I did notice, though, was there was no buzz about the previous day’s speaker. Nothing, almost as if she hadn’t been there.

Because of what she covered, I knew that I would only have to “kiss it” within mine, deleting a good 10 minutes and allowing me to add tidbits to a key point that I would like to spend more time. In doing this, I would reference her presentation the day before and move to the point that I could expand. What I did do, was add in something that wasn’t even covered or hinted in her talk about change and did it with a couple of slides that I put together after I heard her.

The buzz after my talk lingered until the conference ended. Attendees would come and speak to me at my book table and share that they had just been talking with their friend and they loved it when I said ______fill in the blank. The Buzz Factor … it’s important.

Because the group was running late from their lunch, which preceded my keynote, I had to cut up 20 minutes of my presentation. As a speaker, you must be flexible and adapt to just about anything, including chopping your own talk if necessary. Which I did … still, the audience listened, adsorbed and came away with relevant info for their workplaces.

To create the Buzz Factor, you can leave your audiences laughing, crying or thinking … but you can’t just leave them. I didn’t—my goal as a speaker has to always have entertainment, lots of humor but lots of meat that can be chewed on, processed, regurgitated—all loaded with ideas and concepts that can be implemented. Gadgets and Gimmicks can be fun … but they are like Chinese food—great during the meal, but after processing and gone too quickly.

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