This is our fifth instalment of our series on Working with Presenters. The first article covered “Approaching Potential Presenters“, the second one dealt with “Confirming Presenters“, the third talked about “Working with Presenters “On the Night” and the fourth explained how to follow up after a presentation has been given.
This article will discuss how to find Guest Presenters, including encouraging your own members to give presentations at your meetings.
In the first article of this series I mentioned that you should explain to a potential Guest Presenter how you initially found out about their product, but I neglected to provide suggestions on how you might go about finding these potential Presenters in the first place.
This article won’t cover how to select Presentation Topics as a seperate article, “Presentation Ideas“, already provides some suggestions. Instead we focus on how to get an actual Presenter (and more often than not they already have a topic they want to present).
That said, often the first step in finding a Guest Presenter is choosing a topic you think your members may in interested in seeing presented and if you’re lucky this could lead you straight to the correct person to present it. Other times, you may have a start searching for a suitable Presenter.
Many of the Guest Presenters I’ve had come along to present a topic I’ve wanted covered at my local User Group meetings that I’ve co-ordinated have been a staff member from the products’ manufacturer, distributer, or retail sales representative.
In the past, I’d seen a new, or interesting, piece of software or hardware, or read an article about a topic that I could be further expanded upon in at a meeting, so I’ve gone straight to the original manufacturer or producer if they are local, or to their primary distributor in my country. About 80% of the time they were able supply one of their own staff members – a Sales or Marketing rep, or better still a Tech Support person. Occasionally they didn’t have the resources or they felt more comfortable letting one of their retail partners supply a more suitable Presenter. Regardless, I usually got a good quality presenter visiting my User Group.
Just follow the steps detailed in the first article of this series, “Approaching Potential Presenters” for ways to actually engage them.
Occasionally, these Potential Presenters would love to have their product demonstrated to your members, but for what ever reason they can’t provide their own staff to do it… Often they may be interstate, or even overseas, but don’t let that stop you from contacting them… you just never know, their Marketing or Sales Manager may have a business trip (or vacation) in your area within the next few months so they can incorporate a visit to your User Group Meeting. However, another option could be that they supply you with some of their marketing and sales information, and perhaps even a demonstration product, and you get one of your own members to give a presentation around this information.
Some starting points for looking of organisations that might be interested in presenting to your User Group include;
- prMac: Join prMac as a prAlert member to receive a variety of press releases from channels you are interested in, with a vast range of companies eagerly wanting to find exposure for their products — after all they have just sent a Press Release out so they have something they want people to know about and you can provide a ready audience for them!
- Industry Magazines: Read magazines like Macworld or even PC.com… look at the feature articles, reviews and especially the advertisements for inspiration. And don’t limit yourself to just computer related publications! Look at Travel, Lifestyle, Medical, Entertainment, Photo & Video focussed publications – often you’ll find related, but previously unthought of, topics that are actually relevant to your members.
- Apple User Group Resources Featured Vendor: The AUGR team often have different Featured Vendors that already know about Apple User Groups and are keen to engage with you on a more direct basis.
- Mac News and Rumour Sites: Like Industry Magazines, there can be a vast pool of Potential Presenters to be found in the news articles, reviews and advertisers of these websites.
Be Prepared to Think Different!
As mentioned in Industry Magazines, don’t limit yourself to just Apple related and focussed companies… look at other areas that your members may interested in and see if you can find a different set of topics to be presented.
For example, I’ve recently become enamoured with cruising the high seas, so a very different, yet somewhat related, topic maybe getting a cruise line or travel agent in to discuss how your members can stay in contact with loved ones back at home while your members are on a cruise around the South Pacific. The Guest Presenter could talk about how to find WiFi hotspots in different ports, or how they run a photography class and competition on board the ship.
Your members may find it interesting on many fronts. They may learn that they can actually stay in contact with friend and family whilst exploring the world one port excursion at a time. Or if they aren’t actually interested in cruising they might apply the knowledge about finding WiFi hot spots to their Caravanning Expeditions around Australia.
With the advent of built-in Webcams, improved internet speeds and easy to use web conferencing software like FaceTime and Skype, you often don’t even need to be in the same city, let alone same country to get someone to present to your group these days.
So look far and wide for Potential Presenters and offer a video conference via FaceTime or Skype as an alternative.
There are hundreds of individual and small development teams producing great Apps for the iOS and Mac App Stores that could jump at the possibility of presenting to a enthusiastic audience, but they don’t have the huge marketing and travel budgets, so a simple video conference could suit both parties.
Chuck Joiner’s MacVoices podcast has a wide range of regular and guest speakers that may be interested in doing a follow up presentation or a Q&A session over video chat with your user group… and they already know what they are doing with video conferencing as that is how Chuck conducts most of his interviews (unless he is roving on the floor Macworld Expo, CES or NAB). If you do contact one of Chuck’s interviewees then make sure you tell them that you found about them via MacVoices!
And sometimes a quick five or ten minute video chat is ideal for providing some variety in to your meeting schedule. Or you could dedicate the bulk of your meeting to a video presentation and have a quick 5-10 minute “in house” presentation in the middle to break it up a bit.
It may seem complex and daunting in the beginning, but if you can video conference with your 75 year Aunt travelling on her Grand African Safari with just her trusty iPad in hand, or your grandchild using a MacBook in the next town once a week, you’ll soon get used to having a group of your members at one end of the conference in your meeting room and single presenter sitting in the comfort of their own lounge on the other side of the world.
Just have a few practice runs between your own members before offering this to other organisations… and whilst you can do some initial testing with two of you sitting in your own lounge rooms, always do a couple of dry runs from your actual Meeting Venue. Use their WiFi or ethernet to ensure you don’t run into bandwidth or firewall issues. Check cellular mobile and data signals.
Always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS!!! have a backup communication method in place!
- Have a seperate telephone number to ring your Remote Presenter on — their landline number, their mobile number, the number of their Personal Assistant, or next door neighbour… and let them have a couple of contact numbers for people in your group.
- Ensure you have their iMessage ID, Skype account, even email can be used in a halting fashion to re-assure each other you are still there.
- Have a different presentation device ready — if you were planning on using your MacBook with Skype, then have an iPad with FaceTime on hand… or vice versa
- Have a Cellular enabled iPad or iPhone available. If you were planning on using one of these in the first place, then have a second unit connected to an alternative carrier.
- Absolute fall back position is to have an member of your group ready with a backup presentation they can give then and there (even if it is on a totally different topic) and reschedule the video conference for another day.
Please don’t let any of these precautions deter from considering offering a Video Chat as they can be a valued and practical way of conducting a presentation. The world really will become your oyster with the number of Potential Presenters becoming virtually unlimited!
This is a serious “Think Different” idea! But why limit yourself to always trudging along to exactly same venue month-in, month-out, year after year!
Get your Special Events Co-ordinator to look at having you all going somewhere different, as a group, once or twice a year. Often with as few as a dozen people you can get another venue to take you on a personalised guided tour or presentation. It saves you coming up with another topic and presenter and gives many of your volunteers a night off and provides some variety for your members.
Have a look at iMug’s Past Meetings Page for some outstanding “Special Events” they have conducted over the years;
- Tour of Telstra Integration Centre in Barry St, Carlton—a live Cisco CRS-1 core network router operating at up to 92 Tbps (yes, that’s right, Terabits per second) and other cool stuff that connects your iPhone to the world (May 2009)
- Triumphant Technology and Trombones — iMug’s end of year celebration at Museum Victoria.
Lemonade—one of the first computer games. Ian Godfrey, with Robert Black. Ian demonstrated Lemonade which he played on his Apple II in 1979. Demonstration made possible by Virtual ][ (licence by courtesy of Gerard Putter).
Nothing is new under the sun … some of us call it a ‘Mac’!
David Demant, Senior Curator, Information and Communication, Museum Victoria
A see, touch hear experience of some of the precursors of modern information and communication devices.
Trombones (and tuba)
A pot pourri of outstanding music by the outstanding musicians of the RAAF Low Brass Ensemble (Dec 2008)
- Apple-based school in action. We enjoyed a visit to Coburg Senior High where we learned about their educational philosophy and how the Mac and its software is central to the achievements of its students and staff. (July 2008)
- Apple Computer Exhibition Launch — Exhibition by iMug at Museum Victoria of a representative sample of Apple hardware, software and promotional material that tells Apple Computer Inc’s story of its contribution to personal computing and its impact on the computer industry and society. (Dec 2006)
Look at, but don’t limit yourself, to venues like;
- Museums – National and Local
- Art Galleries, again National and Local
- Schools and Universities
- Performing Arts Centres & Theatres
- Community Centres
- Televison and Radio studios
Many of these organisations use Mac and iOS devices to perform various functions and they might be able to give you a behind the scenes look at it all.
If your group doesn’t have an Apple Retail store near you, organise a Road or Bus trip to visit one and attend some of their one-on-one and group training sessions.
Also check out Apple’s Pro Users page for examples organisations using Apple’s Pro Apps like Aperture, Final Cut and Logic Pro to perform daily tasks. These might give you some ideas of local organisations to contact.
Chat with the leaders of other User Groups… and not just Apple User Groups — look at PC focussed groups. Invite them to give a presentation to your group, even if it is a repeat of something they presented to their own members recently. And you could offer to repeat one of your presentations to them at a later meeting.
The advantage of this reciprocal swapping of presenters is you don’t have to prepare another presentation — you’re both recycling exisiting ones to a new audience. You can both test for contrasting reactions to new material with a different audience. And you’re fostering relationships with another group that can lead to other joint venues.
Also look at other groups like Lions, Rotary, and ProBus and other Community and Charity Groups. Many of them will have people who can give presentations on a variety of topics.
A community group seminar I visited for another project a few years ago always invited a presenter from a different local charity or community support group to each month to talk for 5 minutes in between their normal sessions. Often these quick presentations promoted an upcoming fundraiser for the charity or they explained what support they provided within the local community and how people can contact the charity if they, family or friends, needed assistance from the charity. There is nothing stopping your Apple User Group from doing something similar – it raises awareness for all parties involved — Your members find out about what else is happening in your local community and your raise your own groups’ profile within the local community.
Many vendors have realised that they can’t get to every User Group but still want to get their information to your members, so they have created “Presentation in a Box” kits.
These kits usually include;
- A pre-prepared presentation, usually as a Keynote or PowerPoint Presentation. Occasionally as QuickTime movie, a PDF or even individual JPEGs.
- Speaker Notes, with a pre-determined script, or points to highlight, plus some extra facts and information
- A NFR (not-for-resale) copy of the application that you can install on your presentation machine to demonstrate
- A copy, or more, to giveaway as a raffle after your presentation
- Printed Flyers or booklets about the product to handout to your members, often with a Discount Code for your members to save when purchasing the product
Sometimes they even include novelties like Popcorn 😉
All you need to supply is a Presenter!
Anyone who can spare a couple of hours to read the notes provided and to run through the presentation first can give the presentation to your members. In fact, these Presentation in a Boxes could be a good opportunity to get different members up and presenting to your Group.
Another great resource for pre-prepared presentations is the Apple Sales Website, which your Apple Ambassador can access.
The Apple Sales Web contains presentations on just about every current Apple product. The presentations usually contain Speaker Notes within the presentation and often there are other sales guides with additional information.
Again, all you need is a someone to give the actual presentation.
The Presentation-in-a-Box and Apple Sales Web ideas obviously suggest that one of your own members give the presentation and all too often this falls to same member of your Committee each and every time… Don’t let that happen!!!
Virtually every member of your User Group should be able to give a presentation to your entire membership!!!
A great way to get your members involved in giving presentations is to have a “Shoot Out” style presentation. Ask two or three members to each give a 10-15 minute presentation using one of their favourite applications to perform a single task – e.g. demonstrate how you could use Pages, InDesign and Photoshop to each create a promotional flyer.
After all, you’re not asking them to give a full hour or two worth of presentation complete with slides etc — they are just quickly showing off an application they enjoy using already and feel comfortable with.
We discuss this this idea in more detail in our recent “Presentation Ideas” article.
And once your members have given a short presentation, they may feel more comfortable about giving a longer presentation.
Another idea we suggested in the Presentation Ideas article for getting your members involved is having them give a short 5-10 minute on their favourite Game, Podcast, Application, Website, etc.
You could have some fun with this idea… have two “hats” handy.
- In the first hat place the names of your members.
- In the second hat place a number of “favourite” topics.
- Draw out a random member’s name from the first hat.
- Then have them draw a random topic from the second hat.
Now depending on how cruel you are, you can either give them five minutes to research the topic (or to get over the panic) and then they give a 5-10 minute talk on that topic then and there OR you can give them until the next meeting to prepare something and then they can give a full length presentation.
This will hopefully give all your members the chance to conduct a short presentation and provide some variety for your other members.
NEVER UNDER ESTIMATE A BEGINNER!!!
Eons ago, it seems, I used to run the Apple II AppleWorks Special Interest Group for my local Apple User Groups and because I had published my own Macros (Macros.NKP) published on the internet (to the usenet group comp.binaries.apple2) and in publications like Texas II and TimeOut Central, I was considered an “expert” on using AppleWorks, so was deemed to the ideal person to run the SIG and teach other how to get the maximum potential out of this text based integrated Word Processing, Spreadsheet and Database package.
That’s fine, I was happy to help out… but one day I had a very humbling experience…
I was demonstrating something in the AppleWorks Word Processor module and had to bold a word. Now to do this, I used to have to perform the following steps;
Type BB then <Return>
Type the word
Type BE then <Return>
And I did this thousands, if not millions, of times for about three years — every time I needed to bold something (and for underlining I’d change the BB and BE for Bold Begin, Bold End, to UB and UE for Underline Begin, and Underline End.)
As I’m demonstrating a member of the audience interrupted me and asked why was I using such a complex way of doing this!
I replied with something along the lines of “Open-Apple-O provides access to all the Options for Print Formatting. That’s how you do it!”
They responded with “Well I just press Ctrl-B to start bolding, then Ctrl-B again when I’ve finished and Ctrl-L does the same for underlining”
Well! You could have bowled me over with a feather!!!
This feature wasn’t available in the original version of AppleWorks I started with years earlier and never picked up on this extremely useful and time saving shortcut when it was introduced in a later release. The audience member had only been using AppleWorks for a few weeks, but had read the very thick printed manuals that were supplied in those days from cover to cover!
So even a raw beginner can teach an old hand new tricks!
So your own User Group can provide a wealth of knowledge from within the ranks of your own membership! Don’t hesitate to ask your members, “beginners” and “expert” to step up and give a presentation (or three).
Working with your Member, who is presenting
When asking your Members to give a presentation to your Group, go through all the steps detailed in the earlier articles in this “Working with Presenters” series.
Send them the initial introductory emails. Just because they attend your meetings, it doesn’t mean they know all the background details like what equipment the group can provide, or what time they have for setting up. It also provides you with a record of who is presenting at upcoming meetings.
Send the reminder emails. Yes, they should know when and where your meetings are, but this time they aren’t just coming as a member of your group, they are coming as a Guest Presenter, so some of the details may be a bit different. Many groups tell their members that the meeting venue opens at say 7pm, but they then inform their presenters that they can have access to the meeting venue half an hour before the meeting starts, allowing the presenter ample time to setup in peace and quite BEFORE the audience arrives.
On the night, greet the member who is presenting as they arrive at the venue and have your Meeting Co-ordinator and Equipment Officer assist them to setup just like normal.
When you introduce the presenter, don’t just introduce them as “Fred, a member of our group” but rather ask them if they’d like to be introduced as a representative of their own business or employer, as sometimes their employer has provided resources towards the presentation or the topic they are presenting is related to their work, or another community group they are involved in. If they don’t want that than try and get some relevant personal details that can be used, like “Fred, has been a Mac user since 1999, when he first saw a friend using iMovie to edit a home movie. The next day he purchased his first computer, an iMac, with iMovie installed on it and has produced over 100 different short movies, using iMovie and later Final Cut Pro. Tonight he’ll be demonstrating how to use iMovie on an iPad and how to upload them to YouTube… over to you Fred.”
THANK THEM after the presentation! Just because they are a member of your group, don’t take them for granted. If you give small tokens of appreciation to a presenter from another commercial organisation, then don’t hesitate to give one to your member as well — after all, they have given up their valuable time preparing and then actually giving the presentation. Often the level of “Thanks” received will impact greatly on their decision to give another presentation, or not!
Have your Catering Officer offer them a cup of tea. Like any other presenter, they will need to pack up and may need to answer questions and thus could miss out on the cuppa.
Follow up after the presentation. You send a thank you email to other presenters, so send one to the members who give a presentation to your group too. And if the presentation proved to be popular with your other members, don’t hesitate to ask that person to give another presentation at a later date.
In other words, treat your members who present exactly the same as any other Guest Presenter you might invite to your meetings!
This article is part of a series… the rest of the series can be found at;
Part 1: Approaching Potential Presenters
Part 2: Confirming Presenters
Part 3: Working with Presenters on the Night
Part 4: Working with Presenters After the Event
Part 5: Finding Guest Presenters [This article]