Most of your meeting's keynote speakers spend hours perfecting their content and delivery. Far fewer practice what Greg Holder, author of The Genius of One, calls audience mapping, a method of ensuring a speech's maximum impact.
Audience mapping is a means of creating a mix of visual, auditory, conscious and subconscious cues to manipulate the direction of the keynote presentation. It allows planners and their speakers to create a blueprint for better facilitating the meeting attendees' experience throughout the speech. Working together with your speakers, venue crews and conference staff, you can use audience mapping to create a more beneficial presentation for your audience – one they’ll be talking about long after it’s over.
Audience Mapping in Action
If you’re having trouble envisioning how audience mapping works, put yourself in your keynote’s shoes. You’ve developed impactful slides to display behind you during the presentation, but in large auditoriums, what might end up on the display screen during your presentation is a close-up of your person.
To maximize the impact of the keynote content, you’ll want to control what the attendee sees and when — the speaker or the slides — thus further influencing their overall takeaway(s). Use the following practices to tighten and maneuver the overall keynote experience for your next meeting.
1. Develop A/V Crew Cues
The folks handling the audiovisual elements of your event won’t have a ton of time to concentrate on complex arrangements, so provide them with all the information up front. Meet with your speaker to map out the supporting elements of the presentation. Develop cues to better facilitate the process as it's happening. For example, you might have the speaker brand important slides with a logo. Then, you can communicate to the A/V crew that, when they see a slide with an embedded logo, cameras should focus on the screen instead of the presenter.
You might also consider coaching your speaker to use other transitional indicators, such as a repeated code word that indicates the crew should turn the house lights up or activate microphones for a Q&A session. Regardless of the approach, make sure all necessary parties are aware of established cues.
2. Use Visuals to Direct Attention
Rather than using visuals as a crutch, have your speakers use them to inform audience members of their role in the presentation. A slide might include a quote that the audience should chew on for a few seconds, or it could offer a picture that illustrates what your speaker is about to discuss.
If your speaker asks a question, adding a slide containing a phone number to which audience members can text their answers might increase live engagement. No matter what’s on the slide, give the crowd enough time to absorb what they're seeing. Science shows we (the attendees) can’t read and listen at the same time, so be patient and let silence rule when necessary.
3. Add Blank Presentation Slides
Never be afraid of padding the presentation with blank slides. Empty slides won’t compete for attention, and they’ll help the audience focus solely on your speaker. Instead of freaking out over seemingly blank space, rest assured that blank slides provide a subconscious cue for attendees to focus on whatever the speaker is conveying at that moment in time.
4. Include Verbal Cues
Pretend you’re in the audience at a convention speech. You hear, “If you look at the screen...” and it gets your attention, right? Using simple, direct language helps attendees know that it’s okay to look away from the speaker. It also sets your keynote up as the person in charge.
When you’re working with a speaker to construct a new speech, start by defining the core message you want attendees to understand. From there, map out what the audience’s journey should look like throughout the presentation. Use the tips and cues above to better control what your attendees will be focusing on and when, helping to instill the intended takeaways.
Krister Ungerböck is a sought-after keynote speaker, former CEO of Ungerboeck Software International and author. He’s been featured in national publications such as NPR, Forbes, Inc. and Entrepreneur for his fresh perspective on leadership, business growth, emotional intelligence and employee engagement. He is an expert on the Language of Leadership — communication insights that he discovered while learning to lead in two foreign languages, observing top execs in more than 40 countries and building businesses in six.