Have you ever snored through a cyber security speaker’s presentation, despite being caffeinated, sugared up and subjected to convention-strength air-conditioning? So imagine what it’s like for audience members who desperately need high-level background on data protection (so that their organization doesn’t become the next Target), but don’t have a technical bone in their body.
Many cyber-security awareness events are studded with brilliant techies full of amazingly useful ideas who have a minor problem communicating their genius. And if your audience members don’t listen, don’t understand, don’t care–then there is little hope of changing their risky data-security habits. Attendee boredom is a meeting planner’s nightmare, an IT department’s budget-buster and an organization’s fast track to data breach.
But your event doesn’t have to be this way. Avoid the 5 Ways and your team will become the silent hero of your next conference.
5 Ways to Doom Your Next Cyber Security Summit
- Sacrifice all entertainment at the alter of content. Because data security is a serious topic, meeting planners for cyber security events are often pressured to pack too much content into too little time, leaving attendees overwhelmed, undereducated and cranky. Solution: For your keynote and general sessions, hire cyber security speakers that deliver relevant content packaged in an entertaining and memorable style. That way, you are eating your cake and having it too. Conferences that balance relevant content with effective engagement get the most BANG! for their buck.
- Hire experts who talk AT your audience, not with them. Let’s face it, the traditional (talking head) keynote is dead. If your cyber security speakers and experts don’t interact with your audiences, they will lose them after the first 140 characters. Attention spans are short and attendees have Angry Birds to distract them, so you must entice them to listen on multiple levels. Solution: The best conference managers I’ve encountered make attendees part of the conversation by using tools like conference hash tags (#brilliant), social media follow-up discussions and by hiring interactive speakers that make the audience part of their presentation.
- Demoralize your attendees with techno-babble. Here is a secret: technical types like geek-speak because it makes them look smart and provides job security (who’s going to fire the guy that knows how to eliminate the Heartbleed Bug?). But that doesn’t work at conferences full of non-technical employees, managers and executives. In fact, it doesn’t even work with techies, because everyone is listening with a different level of ability. Solution: Look for experts able to express complex and technical ideas in simple ways that can be consumed and understood by ALL levels. For breakouts and deep dives, feel free to get as technical as the audience needs, but design your general sessions with everyone in mind.
- Save money by bringing in only “industry experts”. A common substitute word for “industry experts” is “vendors”. And the purpose of vendors is TO SELL PRODUCTS (to your audience). Vendors are a crucial component to the financial health of your event, but there is a better way to honor them. Solution: Have your vendors sponsor the keynote speakers that will make their product (and your conference) shine by association. Give their brand some exposure during the presentation so that your speaker doesn’t become a salesperson. Utilize vendors and “member experts” to fill in breakout sessions, panels and socializing events.
- Make it all about the organization. Conferences are often designed around getting employees to change their behavior “for the good of the company”. The problem is, we humans are somewhat selfish by nature and tend to ask what’s in it for us. It’s a neon red flag if your cyber security speakers teach in terms of policies and regulations, compliance and legal mumbo jumbo. Solution: Connect with your attendees by providing clear evidence on how they are affected personally by data protection. Once they “get it”, it’s easy to expand that security mindset into the workplace. Make security personal before you expect it to be applied professionally.
I have seen a number of cyber security speakers that rock the stage and end up making the meeting organizers the quiet heroes of the conference. Don’t settle for boring when you have an opportunity to make your event amazing.
If you are looking for cyber security speaker who will not only keep your audience awake with entertaining content, but who has spoken at the Pentagon, appeared on Rachael Ray and recently taken up Stand Up Paddle-boarding, get in touch with John directly on 800.258.8076.
“I’ve never learned so much I was doing wrong and had so much fun doing it!”
– Fortune 500 CEO on John Sileo’s Cyber Security Secrets for Non-Geeks keynote