March 1

How do you approach security (or other) speakers?

It’s no secret that I am an “expert who speaks on the topic of preventing breaches and protecting information” (notice how that was crafted – I’m not a speaker, I’m an expert who speaks. We can argue about the meaning of expert later – but I’m certainly passionate!). I love what I do – and I enjoy relating security concepts to protect information in a way that seems almost easy. When I work with an audience, I always offer my email address and telephone number. Straight up, no strings attached. I offer that if people have questions, need something, are concerned – send me and email, call me (and now I add in the ability to chat). I then call that the 1% rule – maybe 1% (or less) of audiences I have offered that too have ever actually taken me up on it!

So what does that mean to you?

How are you engaging the speakers and presenters you listen to? Do you ask questions? Are you afraid to?

As a speaker, I love being engaged (and even challenged) by the audience. I want you to be passionate, take a position and get involved. Yet there are times when I offer to answer questions during a close and there are those awkward silent moments.

Mark Goulston over at the Never Eat Alone blog (great book, good blog) wrote a short piece with some suggestions called: Connecting With Speakers. As a speaker, I have to tell you that I have yet to have someone use this approach with me – but I entirely welcome it. Think about this the next time you are about to attend an event – connect ahead of time, prepare some questions (not acting as a plant, mind you) and then enjoy the richness of the entire experience.

What are some other techniques you use to get more out of the presentations you attend? Do you engage the speakers – why or why not?

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  1. Michael,
    I would say most people don’t engage the speaker for 1 reason. The reason being fear. Fear of sounding dumb or ignorant on a topic. I equate this to the high school mentality. Most kids in high school hated being called on because they are scared of giving the wrong answer. I also believe it’s fear of rejection, what if the question I ask is not appropriate because I really didn’t understand the presentation?

    As for why no one calls or emails you, my guess is the same reason. I have a great quote for you from a speaker you told me about;

    “If your not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original” Sir Ken Robinson

    I think a version of this applies to asking questions.

    My question back to you is, do you find that when you present to smaller groups, maybe at a roundtable, more questions are asked? My guess is yes, because they feel a stronger connection to you and most likely if they are attending a roundtable, they feel pretty comfortable in the topic at hand.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Tim

  2. Michael,
    I would say most people don’t engage the speaker for 1 reason. The reason being fear. Fear of sounding dumb or ignorant on a topic. I equate this to the high school mentality. Most kids in high school hated being called on because they are scared of giving the wrong answer. I also believe it’s fear of rejection, what if the question I ask is not appropriate because I really didn’t understand the presentation?

    As for why no one calls or emails you, my guess is the same reason. I have a great quote for you from a speaker you told me about;

    “If your not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original” Sir Ken Robinson

    I think a version of this applies to asking questions.

    My question back to you is, do you find that when you present to smaller groups, maybe at a roundtable, more questions are asked? My guess is yes, because they feel a stronger connection to you and most likely if they are attending a roundtable, they feel pretty comfortable in the topic at hand.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Tim

  3. I agree with Tim thoughts; it’s fear with maybe a touch of humility (I’m not really good enought to talk with him/her).
    Another reason is being in a hurry to get to something else (back to work, returning a call, another session, etc.). They may just not be interested in talking to the presenter.

    As “someone who speaks,” I’ve found the rule of thumb is that 10% of my audience will generally come up after my presentation. That’s usually about the amount I can handle. About 0.1% communicate with me after the conference or meeting is over.

    For those who may be afraid, humble or too busy: GO TALK TO THE SPEAKER! If for no other reason than to shake their hand and say thanks. You’ll get to meet and know some fascinating people.

  4. I agree with Tim thoughts; it’s fear with maybe a touch of humility (I’m not really good enought to talk with him/her).
    Another reason is being in a hurry to get to something else (back to work, returning a call, another session, etc.). They may just not be interested in talking to the presenter.

    As “someone who speaks,” I’ve found the rule of thumb is that 10% of my audience will generally come up after my presentation. That’s usually about the amount I can handle. About 0.1% communicate with me after the conference or meeting is over.

    For those who may be afraid, humble or too busy: GO TALK TO THE SPEAKER! If for no other reason than to shake their hand and say thanks. You’ll get to meet and know some fascinating people.

  5. As a listener to many of honorable experts and speakers, I would have to agree with both Tim and Ron. I would also have to add the aspect of time. Many of the conferences that I have attended have had a schedule that kept me either running from one speaking session to another OR that my employer has had a schedule that did not allow for the after speaker chit chat. Either way there have been many times that I wish I could have gone up to speak with the presenter, but time was lacking. I find that the “round table” forum tends to lend itself to better and more in-depth discussions especially as a listener with time contstraints.

  6. As a listener to many of honorable experts and speakers, I would have to agree with both Tim and Ron. I would also have to add the aspect of time. Many of the conferences that I have attended have had a schedule that kept me either running from one speaking session to another OR that my employer has had a schedule that did not allow for the after speaker chit chat. Either way there have been many times that I wish I could have gone up to speak with the presenter, but time was lacking. I find that the “round table” forum tends to lend itself to better and more in-depth discussions especially as a listener with time contstraints.

  7. I believe that it is the Wayne’s World Syndrome at work. “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy” to speak to such an acclaimed speaker. As a newcomer to the Security industry, I would be very intimidated to go up to Michael at a conference. BUT, since I have engaged him on more than 2 occasions through the SILC Catalysts channel, I am actually anxious to meet him, especially since I hear that he is passing through Atlanta soon and is possibly setting up some events. ATL is a short 3 hr drive for me and is a doable day trip for me. Now that we have a ‘relationship’ [and a number of things in common], I feel much better about going to talk to him after a conference,

  8. I believe that it is the Wayne’s World Syndrome at work. “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy” to speak to such an acclaimed speaker. As a newcomer to the Security industry, I would be very intimidated to go up to Michael at a conference. BUT, since I have engaged him on more than 2 occasions through the SILC Catalysts channel, I am actually anxious to meet him, especially since I hear that he is passing through Atlanta soon and is possibly setting up some events. ATL is a short 3 hr drive for me and is a doable day trip for me. Now that we have a ‘relationship’ [and a number of things in common], I feel much better about going to talk to him after a conference,

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