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April 6, 2007

9 Ways To Bore The Audience at SES New York

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Search Engine Strategies hits New York next week and I know everyone is very excited for the event. Well, almost everyone.

I imagine if you’re a presenter or moderator on a panel, it’s no fun at all. You have to get up early, put on actual clothes, and get bombarded by all the people who want a piece of you. Meanwhile, all you want to do is get out without inspiring a Cuttlet-like frenzy. Isn’t your presence enough for these people? I mean, you’re really not there to educate anyone anyway; you’re just hoping your speaker badge will get you some free drinks.

I totally feel your pain. College was the same way for me.

Because I’m nice (and it’s Friday), I thought I’d offer some advice on how to bore the audience at SES so much that no one dares ask you question, while still providing enough value to get you invited back next year (for the drinks, of course).

  1. Don’t Make Eye Contact: This is very important. Never look at any one individual in the eyes. Doing so may cause them to ask questions or engage with you. Your best course of action is to concentrate on your notes, scan the crowd as a whole, or stare at your PowerPoint presentation like you’ve never seen it and are amazed by its beauty, and frankly, your own awesomeness. It’s okay to look at the other speakers, but not for too long. You don’t want them to cut in on your presentation. This is about you.
  2. Ignore time limits: Is a 15 minute presentation not enough time for you? Ignore it! Feel free to talk, ramble, and vent as long as you want. Let’s be honest, you’re session is the only one audience members came to see anyway. They have no place to be. Take your time.
  3. Evade Questions: If you don’t feel like answering questions, don’t. If someone is rude enough to ask, look the jerk square in the eye (this is the only time eye contact is permissible), laugh loudly, and then move on to the next question. This not only gets you out of answering, it pretty much guarantees they never ask another question ever again. To anyone. About anything. A dismissive eye roll is always good too.
  4. Whisper: That’s right. Ignore your mic and whisper at the audience like it’s just the two of you enjoying a romantic dinner. If the people at the back of the room cared what you had to say they would have gotten to the session a little earlier and claimed a front room seat, wouldn’t they? Damn skippy. Don’t you strain your voice. You’ll need it for the bar scene later.
  5. Look Bored: Look bored when you’re not speaking. This reinforces that your presentation was better than anyone else’s and tells the audience you’re way cooler than everyone else in the room. This will help you get invited back next year. If you happen to notice the audience getting excited or learning forward like they’re trying hard hear your competition speak, yawn. Loudly and into the mic.
  6. Talk About Yourself: You’re awesome. If you weren’t awesome, you wouldn’t have been invited to speak at SES NY. Make sure your audience is aware of this. Remind them loudly and often.
  7. Throw out lots of URLs: The sessions rooms aren’t WiFi enabled. I know, it’s crazy, but they’re not. Therefore it’s a really good idea for you to throw out as many URLs as possible. People love hearing about a site they can’t access.
  8. Homework Not Necessary: Don’t feel like you need to have attended a session before in order to speak at one. Trying to meet your listener’s expectations will ruin your spontaneity and creativity. Oh, and if you don’t want to talk about the topic you were assigned, don’t worry about. No one will notice if you start talking about football during the Robots.txt Summit. Newbies will just think you’re making an analogy they don’t understand and will be too embarrassed to call you on it. They’ll also feel pressured to give you a rave review.
  9. Don’t Leave Time For Questions: Audience participation? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! Talk. And when you’re done, leave. Even if the session is still going on.

There you have it; the nine things crucial to boring your audience to the point where they start concentrating on the light fixtures instead of the presentation. See ya in New York!

Of course, if you don’t want to bore the audience at next week’s SES, just reverse all the information above. It’s equally beneficial.

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5 responses to “9 Ways To Bore The Audience at SES New York”

  1. Rebecca Kelley writes:

    Very nice. Might I also suggest neglecting to shower for several days prior to the presentation? That’s a good way to prevent getting a slew of people rushing up to speak to you after the session ends.

  2. Kim Krause Berg writes:

    I’m SO GLAD I never speak at seminars! Although watching me faint would probably be exciting for somebody I guess.

  3. Borino writes:

    Brilliant. I feel like I was there (and several other events ;-)

  4. Trogdor writes:

    From looking at the photo’s metadata, I’m guessing that the boring session was around 6:53 pm on August 9, 2006. Of course, it’s hard to tell what time zone the camera was set to, but we can make assumptions.
    Heck, from that date & time, we might even be able to pinpoint the boring speaker, as well as the boring session.
    He he he …

  5. Ben Pfeiffer writes:

    You know I was sitting in a session blogging away for SER thinking, Boy is this guy boring. Someone should write an article about this and poof! Lisa did well in advance!



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