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The Speaker’s Missing Element

*There is a speaker that commands a large audience. She only takes invitations where she knows that all seats will be filled, all eyes on her, all cell phones set to record. Participants are usually mesmerized. They can usually vividly remember the passionate words that impacted them at that particular moment. But wait a minute – that’s the problem. They remember only passionate words that impacted them at a particular moment. If the speaker spoke for one hour, a participant remembering just a sentence or two is less than 1% of the information provided. That’s not good. The speaker has prepared for countless hours, crafting her words and then refining them again and again until a level of perfection from her standpoint is reached. With all that being accomplished, the participant only walks away with a sentence or two of inspiration.

What if the speaker could hold onto their audience for weeks, months or maybe even years? Within this time the participant’s percentage of learning would increase. From 1% to 5%, from 5% to 15%, from 15% to 44%, etc. This approach would eventually redefine how we describe who attends the speaking engagement. Instead of labeling them as “participants”, the word will transition into “learners.” We can’t or shouldn’t really expect much from a participant; they are just participating. It’s sort of like walking through the park. I gaze at the flowers, maybe even become quite infatuated with one. Its colors, stem structure, etc., etc., etc. This is participation. It is the walk through with the occasional infatuation. Learners on the other hand are expected to adhere to certain objectives, analyze, synthesize and form some type of deductive conclusion. As a speaker, what would you prefer based on your hard work? A participant or a learner?

I always find it quite odd when I am having a conversation with a speaker and they will say something similar to, “My goal is to inspire.” Basically, this group of speakers is quite satisfied with just having participants. Learners are for “others” to cultivate. My response is similar to, “So you are satisfied with getting your participants motivated in a certain direction and then letting them have at it?” I am probably a little less sarcastic and do apply a bit of tact, but taking someone to first base and then leaving them there with second, third and home still left to go is usually called a game left unfinished.

By working together, speakers, technologists and educators can redefine a process that builds on participants attending a speaking engagement. Get them excited. Then, transition this excitement into a learning program that will greatly increase an individual’s success rate based on the objectives outlined within the speech. What can we use to accomplish this process? A learning management system (LMS) is the answer. A process that is flexible enough to work with participants as they continue to live their lives, but rigorous enough to track outcomes.

Within websites there are what we call landing pages that drive users towards some form of engagement. Landing pages are usually integrated throughout the website, giving different users the opportunity to engage at certain points within it. This can be true for a speech as well. Why not have certain call-to-actions within the speech that drive participants to use their mobile devices by signing up for certain LMS content? This is speaking engagements for the 21st century.

*This article was recycled from The Leverage House ( my site that focuses on eLearning centered around suppressing educational depravity in economically distressed areas.

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February 6, 2017

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Brian Southers

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Brian Southers is about developing and implementing strategies that provide social change. Tackle problems from a human perspective.

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