The next time you’re at a business conference or event, take a look at what your fellow guests are doing during the keynote speech.
If the speaker is lousy, the audience will look at smartphones, chat amongst themselves like schoolkids or think of Mother England. A few will mentally plot how to sneak to the table with hors d’oeuvres, where a waiter has just placed a fresh tray of chicken roulades filled with melted brie and asparagus.
If the speaker is engaging, most of the audience will sit and pay attention. However, if you were to ask these same listeners about the talk a week or a month later, they most likely will greet you with a blank stare.
The exception is a committed few, who will have a notepad and pen on the arm of their chair, taking notes like they’re about to seriously cram for a university exam. The note takers later compare the advice they record with current practice in their own businesses. These notes, in turn, will get pulled out for strategy meetings and policy review sessions.
Well, Old Taskmaster says, before any speech or presentation, it’s worth asking yourself whether the speaker you’re listening to is note-worthy.
If the person has been successful in the endeavour they’re discussing, it’s worth making a note of any key advice they offer – in other words, they’re note-worthy. If, on the other hand, they’re lecturing you on something they’ have no practical experience of, leave that notepad back at the office – they’re not note-worthy and their advice isn’t worth the paper you’d write it on.
So, for example, Richard Branson’s thoughts about starting a business are note-worthy; he’s had success in that endeavour. Your cab driver’s stock tips? Not so much.
Remember even a note-worthy business talk should not primarily be about entertainment. Frankly, Old Taskmaster could gain far more entertainment sitting in front of the fireplace of the Taskmaster Manor with a Brandy Old-Fashioned and a good novel than from listening to any business speaker.
Similarly, you will gain little benefit from treating a talk as a boring formality before networking with fellow business people while nibbling on soft-cheese filled canapés.
Instead, if you’re at an event with a note-worthy speaker, become a note taker and put their advice to good use in your own business!
Get it done—at your next event!