Speaking at conferences and running training programs for corporate groups represents about half of my revenue these days. I speak at about 30 conferences a year and have an opportunity to hear some amazing speakers and also many incredibly terrible ones.
The worst speakers prattle on about their stupid products instead of educating and informing the audience.
In my experience, these awful speakers come in two main categories:
> Those who are chosen by conference organizers because they signed up as a "Platinum Sponsor." These speakers assume they have the right to bore audiences because they paid for it.
> The second group are "big names" (such as a company CEO). Because these speakers are chosen for their brand value ("hey, he's CEO of XYZ Company!") instead of their ability to hold an audience with a compelling presentation, these speakers often suck big time. When one of these big names steps up to the podium, the audience is anticipating something extremely interesting. But then within five minutes of some inane nonsense about how their services work, half the crowd is playing blackberry. Ugh.
So I am intrigued by the way that a conference called Business Software 2007 is recruiting some of its speakers: with a Software Idol contest. If you want to speak, you have to submit a short YouTube video "on a topic that will inspire, and be relevant to, an audience of software executives. Start off by saying who you are, that you want to speak at Business of Software 2007 and then pitch. Your video should be no more than 3 minutes long."
How cool is this approach?!
Even better, visitors to the web site can vote on who they would like to hear! The selected contest winners will have expenses paid to speak at the event.
Beats the heck out of some windbag CEO talking about their "flexible, scalable, cutting edge, mission critical solution for improving business process."