Have you ever been to a conference presentation that felt really flat? One where the speaker seemed a little nervous walking on stage and the audience was in a lull from sitting in sessions for hours on end or not having enough coffee? I know I’ve definitely experienced both as a presenter and as an attendee.
Getting the most out of every conference presentation typically means you need to find a way to inject a high level of energy into the crowd and, most importantly, the presenter.
And that’s where the “Big Omaha standing ovation” comes in. If you’re not familiar with concept, it was started by Dave Hasuer, co-founder of virtual business phone system Grasshopper.com, at the Big Omaha Conference in 2010—and continues to be a big part of the event each and every year.
Instead of holding your applause until the end of the session, with the Big Omaha standing ovation everyone is asked to give a standing ovation at the beginning of the session. I’m not talking about a conservative golf clap or a sporadic round of applause that sounds like the last 15 seconds of popcorn popping in the microwave, I’m talking about a standing ovation with people shouting, jumping, and clapping uncontrollably.
Talk about a great way to get people engaged and bring out the best from the speaker. Having watched a few presenters come out to the Big Omaha standing ovation, you can see the immediate reaction on their faces. Instead of being nervous, they’re smiling from ear to ear. Their posture is different. They’re more relaxed. And they’re more likely to deliver the best speech you’ve ever heard.
Check out this video below from the 25 - 45 second mark to see the reaction to the welcome from one of the speakers.
The crowd is also a heck of a lot more engaged. They’re up and moving around. They’re not sitting on their hands. They’re more likely to ask good questions. I don’t know about you, but if I’m spending 45 minutes or longer in a session, I’d much rather make the most of it instead of dozing off in the back row.
If you are organizing a conference or plan on presenting anytime soon, give the “Big Omaha standing ovation” a try and let me know how it goes. I think you are going to find it brings out the best from the presenters, from the audience, and adds a lot of value to the entire conference.
Thanks to Kit from Fygment for the reminder about how awesome the Big Omaha standing ovation is. I can't wait until my next conference.
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[Image: Silicon Prairie News]