Home' micenet eMag : micenet December 2017 Contents MEETING DESIGN | NIGEL COLLIN
was recently driving with my son through
Sydney when the car in front of us
switched lanes without any warning right in
front of another vehicle. Behind was
another car whose driver then needed to slap
on their brakes to give everyone room to
avoid a collision.
I calmly explained to my son that “that’s
why you need the three second rule”. You
know, the one that says no matter the speed
you’re doing make sure there is always three
seconds between you and the car in front.
Sadly there are a few drivers out there who
don’t appear to know anything about it.
(Good thing I’m perfect!)
If we have buffer zones when driving then
why don’t we have buffer zones in event run
So often in event programs there is no
room for error when it comes to time. If one
speaker goes over time, or your delegates
are late from a break, it creates a cascading
catch-up effect and havoc. It throws the next
few speakers out, shortens Q&As, annoys
your sponsors when you cut 10 minutes from
lunch and they have less selling time, and
your conference facilitator becomes a
glorified time keeper.
So I’m jumping on my soapbox and
making a plea! Please add at least a five-
minute buffer between presentations.
“Hang on Nige,” I hear you say. “If I have
eight speakers during the day that’s 40
minutes of downtime!”
Yes, that’s right, although I’d say it is 40
Nigel Collin gives three important reasons why you need to
build time-buffers into your conference run sheets.
UP THE BUFF
minutes of productive time. And there are three very good reasons for that...
1 You’ll get the most out of your speakers
No matter how well you plan, someone is going to go over time and the last thing you want is
other speakers stressing out. Many internal speakers are thrown (and sadly many professional
ones too) if you ask them to trim their time. I’ve coached loads of executive presenters over the
years and the one thing I wish I didn’t have to teach them is how to build their presentations so
they can cut five or 10 minutes off if they need to, without affecting their message or delivery.
2 You’ll get the most out of your conference facilitator
You’re paying good money for your conference facilitator (at least I hope you are) so you want to
give them the time needed to edify your speakers, create links, add relevant anecdotes,
energise people, and get participants thinking and talking about what they just heard. A good
facilitator is a theme weaver, and it’s their job to support and enhance your program, and they
can only do that if you give them enough time to do so, otherwise you’ve paid someone who
only has time to thank the previous speaker and introduce the next one.
3 Your delegates will learn more, retain more and apply more.
Building buffers also helps your conference participants get more from the sessions. Humans
need time to digest things, especially when it’s new. Having buffers gives them that chance
because it allows them to think about and talk about key points and how to apply them. And it
allows them to empty their brains and reset for the next presentation. Neuro-science tells us
that the pre-frontal cortex (the thinking part of your brain) drains itself of energy fast and needs
to recharge every 20 -30 minutes. (This is one of the reasons for the trend of shorter
presentations - but that’s another topic).
4 It takes the stress out of things. For everyone
I know I said three but this one kind of sums it all up. Nothing more to be said really.
Just as keeping three-seconds distance between you and the car in front might seem
excessive, having a five-minute buffer between speakers may seem unnecessary, but it will
make sure you arrive safely at your conference destination.
It will also make sure your participants get the most from the journey and that you get the
most from your speakers, your facilitator and your sponsors. m
Nigel Collin is a speaker, facilitator and author of The Game of Inches: why small change wins big
results. Find out more at www.nigelcollin.com.au.
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