Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Smartest People are Not the Best Panelists

I attended a conference in Napa the last few days and one comment about the conference came through time and again -- the speakers kept losing their audiences over and over. To the credit of the committee (of attorneys) that organized the panels, they had recruited the most successful attorneys (in particular areas of law) to appear on stage. Yet, the smartest person at doing a thing is not always the best person to teach or talk about it. I am always amazed that when individuals become part of an event committee they forget everything they've muttered when they to were participating from the audience. Anyway -- here's three things that this conference might have done differently:
  • Pick speakers who have been seen on-stage. Can they teach? Can they engage an audience or will the audience get lost or bored? A disinterested audience will leave early and think twice about returning the following year.
  • Look first to the needs of the audience. No matter the conference or event people want to spend time talking, be entertained, and learn something -- in that order!
  • Hire professional event producers. This conference I attended used an excellent event planner, so definitely no problem there. But, an event production company takes on most of what an organizing committee does. A production company not only plans an event, they find the right speakers and emcees, they orchestrate every moment and create highs and lows to suit an audience -- they create an experience!
It is said often that lawyers are (generally) not the right experts to create marketing materials. The same can be said of events. I have often stated that lawyers SHOULD get involved in committees as an excellent business networking tactic. That remains true. But, to be on a committee carries the responsibility of making sound choices for the organization, and their events....