Conference managers often ask their attendees for feedback – both positive and negative – so that they can improve each event experience. Through this process, I’ve learned that few things irritate conference managers and attendees more than a discrepancy between the original session abstract and the presented lecture. Attendees have limited time at conferences and if there are several concurrent sessions, they must choose only one. They want to feel confident they are making a wise choice based on their objectives for attending the conference. So when a speaker steps on stage and begins presenting a topic that varies dramatically from the talk description in the printed agenda, it does not go over well with the audience.

As a speaker, avoiding this faux pas is easy – always keep a copy of the speaker proposal you originally submitted and do not vary from that description when developing the presentation. Then ask yourself the following questions when drafting your talk outline:

  • Does this topic match the idea I originally submitted?
  • Can I use my original list of learning objectives or attendee takeaways to develop an outline of my session?
  • What are the most important points to cover in the time I am allotted?
  • If I must change the focus slightly, do I have time to get it approved by conference manager – meaning they have time to update the session description on the conference brochure/website?

Ensuring that your session description matches your presentation is an easy way to create a positive experience for attendees and build trust with your target audience. At the end of the day, if you can provide tangible takeaways that they can utilize in their work lives, you will have a happy audience AND a more positive response on those session feedback forms.