Why do we all conduct seminars and give speeches from behind a podium, directing the same old multi-page content out over the same old rows of listless audience members? If you want people to react differently, you have to find different ways to grab – and hold – their attention. Here are four:
Playing ring around the orator has a number of benefits, not the least of which is removing the idea of "us versus them" and reimagining the speaker/audience dynamic as a more collaborative enterprise.
20 Slides in 20 Seconds
Anyone who has been stuck staring at a black-and-white PowerPoint slide while the remote-equipped speaker drones on and on and on about vertical integration knows that static speeches are a real crowd killer.
Pecha Kucha, a presentation style invented in Japan in 2003, involves showing 20 images in 20 seconds, with no stopping for explanation and no time for tangents. The result is maximum impact (there's no room for non-essential information in Pecha Kucha) with minimal self-indulgence on the part of the speaker.
Sticking to a stage/audience format really limits the number of people whose POVs are able to be heard. Soapbox sessions are informal but often still planned ahead of time and can occur anywhere – the hallway, the hotel lobby, in the middle of the dining room during lunch – all you need is a box, a willing mouthpiece, and 5 minutes of your conference attendee's time and you'll help create lot more exposure for innovative contributors who might not otherwise get the time of day.
These days, something really interesting is happening on the way to the forum. Instead of guests receiving a predetermined agenda and spending a few days being talked at, attendees at some "unconferences" are helping to create, organize, and even lead discussions – all fleshed out after everyone has already arrived. What better way to encourage involvement then to give everyone a hand in the event's outcome?