I’ll admit it. I’ve walked out of more presentations at conferences than I can count.
Have you ever gone to one of those big industry conferences and been jazzed by the title of a session only to be disappointed because the speaker didn’t meet the expectations they set forth in their session title and description?
Yeah, me, too. Many times.
False advertising makes me mad, and given how many people walk out of these sessions, I have to believe that I’m not alone.
Of course, people walk out of sessions for other reasons, too. I conducted an informal survey of people who walked out at an international conference I recently attended. Here are a few reasons they gave:
- Speaker did not deliver what was promised
- Speaker had poor facilitation skills
- Tired of those silly “turn to your neighbor” techniques
- Speaker was boring
- Speaker was too enthusiastic
- Speaker was condescending
- Speaker was selling
- Speaker’s ego got in the way
- Speaker threw things at the audience (I’m not making this up, I walked out of this one, too)
I can’t figure out why speakers do this to themselves. It’s an honor to speak at a conference. It’s an opportunity to showcase expertise and build thought leadership. But if people leave a session disappointed or frustrated, the opposite has been accomplished.
I also wonder why conference organizers don’t do something about this. Is it that difficult to find effective speakers? Are they aware of the problem? Do they pay attention to how many people walk out?
I used to think that I was alone in my reaction to these things. After all, I’m a presentation and facilitation coach. But I’m not alone. I know this because I’ve begun sitting in the back so I can see people exiting.
So, what are your thoughts? Have you been disappointed by a speaker? Have you walked out? Share your story below.
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