Business conferences. It seems like some people attend them just for the embroidered backpacks, the chafing dishes full of institutional eggs, and the Kool & The Gang singalongs in the hotel bar. Here’s a thought bubble: Perhaps, at the end of the day, attending the conference sessions is the biggest of the pain points in attending a conference.

Bottom line. Just thought I’d run that up the flagpole.

But not me! I read the abstracts, and I take notes, and I rock the fucking name tag. I’ve never led a plenary session (plenary plenary plenary; everyone loves saying that because it makes you sound like you’re going to talk about curing cancer) or even presented a paper. (These are not part of my core competencies. Going forward, though, I think I’m going to add that to my personal development plan.)

And I came home from my recent conference with a whole new outlook. Not just because I learned about introducing Zimbra or Moodle or Google Wave to your organization. No, my biggest takeaway was the amazing experience our group (of loosely affiliated, self-identified cool people) shared at a brew pub one night. “Joan,” our server, was Pareto’s heir apparent. When she spoke, we were enthralled. Everything was recontextualized.

I didn’t have time to pick up her abstract before she kicked us out that night, so I’ve put together the talking points from her talk. I think you’ll relate to it. It’s totally scalable.

Straight Up Now Tell Me: Managerial Public Speaking Best Practices, as presented by “Joan,” our server at the bar

1. Start with a powerful declaration.

OK people, I need you all to shut up for a minute because I’m only going to tell you this once.

2. Outline your actionable items.

We have FOUR BEERS. FOUR. Pilsner, Wheat, Amber, and Bitter. The first two are light. The Amber is amber. The Bitter is a darker amber.

3. Make your aspiration statement.

I’m going to take your order based on where you’re sitting at the table. You, guy over there, go sit in your seat. Anyone who moves will NOT GET THEIR DRINK.

4. Create synergy by making people question everything they think they know.

What kinds of wine do we have? Why the hell would you order wine in a brew pub? What’s wrong with you?

5. Draw your audience in with a personal anecdote everyone can relate to.

Religion is dumb. My father’s an evangelical. He’s also a tax-dodger.

…And he abused me.

6. Speak to the individual.

You told me I should pick a drink for you. So now you have a pink drink with two cherries in it. They symbolize your balls.

7. End with a call to action.

This tip is not nearly large enough. It needs to be bigger.

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2 Responses to My takeaways from the conference in St. Louis

  1. Marco says:

    Pure genius from a genius.