Working with Presenters

by Dave Marra

(After conducting an excellent session in the User Group Lounge at Macworld Expo NYC 2001, Dave Marra, Apple Senior Systems Engineer, agreed to put together this piece on how to find and work with presenters. Many thanks to Dave for sharing his insight as a veteran MUG presenter.)

Within most technology companies, there are four general categories of employees: Management, Sales, Systems Engineering & Marketing. Most presentations are conducted by Systems Engineers or Marketing teams. Reach out beyond your Sales Representative to the Systems Engineering or Marketing teams to acquire the best presenters.

Use the sales rep “locators” that many companies have on their web sites to locate your regional company representative. Work through this person to schedule a presentation with their Systems Engineering or Marketing teams.

If you cannot locate or do not know a representative for a company, use the contact information found at the bottom of most company press releases. These people can often assist in locating a person within their company who can present to your MUG.

Consider showcasing your MUG by making a “media kit” or a flyer and distributing it to local computer stores, internet service providers, real estate offices, schools, etc. These materials can get more people interested in joining your MUG. When mailed to companies, they can also be a great way to get them interested in sending presenters to your events.

In addition to the always-popular product updates, many other presentation topics are available on a wide range of hardware and software technologies. If your MUG has specific areas of interest, let the presenter know so that a presentation can be customized for your audience.

The big presentation “seasons” for companies that sell Macintosh-related products are the weeks right after Macworld Expo San Francisco and Macworld Expo New York.

Talk with other MUGs for presenter suggestions and/or topic ideas. When you find a good presenter or topic, let other MUGs know via the MugCenter and/or the Apple User Group Digest.

For extra special presentations, consider opening the event to other MUGs in the area so that everyone can benefit.

Before, During and After the Show…

  • Write a press release about the upcoming event, your MUG and the presenter. Distribute it to the local media and major Mac info web sites, such as MacCentral. This will help generate interest and awareness not only for the event, but also for your MUG.
  • On your MUG’s web site, include information about the upcoming presentation, including a link to the presenter’s company and/or products.
  • Consider making each MUG activity education-focused. Send your MUG’s “media kit” and press releases to school districts, inviting teachers and students to participate. Consider offering student membership discounts.
  • If necessary, provide the presenter with names and locations of the nearest airports and/or hotels a few weeks before the event.
  • A few weeks before the show, email the presenter with the street address and directions for your meeting facility. In addition, provide an address (not a P.O. box) to which the presenter can ship equipment and/or raffle items to ahead of time.
  • Provide plenty of open table space and power strips for the presenter’s demo equipment, props, etc.
  • A few weeks before the show, make sure that the presenter knows who the MUG’s primary contact person should be and their phone number/cell phone number, if possible.
  • Allow for enough time before the show for the presenter to set up the presentation and to run through the demos. Make sure that all necessary equipment (projector, internet connection, audio system, etc.) is available when the presenter arrives.
  • Maximize the amount of time the presenter has to do the actual presentation, allowing enough time for demos and Q & A.
  • Do not have more than one presenter per meeting.
  • Prior to the show, let the presenter know how an estimate of how many people will be in the audience.
  • Prior to the show, make sure that the presenter knows how much time is allocated for setup, the presentation itself and for pack down. Also, if the presentation venue must be vacated by a certain time, let the presenter know that as well.
  • Prior to the show, email the presenter with network info and settings (speed, TCP/IP configuration, etc.), as well as audio and video considerations (projector resolution, number of video inputs, what type of microphone, etc.)
  • Before the event, consider having a pre-show conference call or brief meeting to fine-tune the presentation, focusing especially on the specific interests (if any) of the audience.
  • Make sure to properly introduce the presenter to the audience since this is one of the easiest ways to generate excitement right before the presentation begins.
  • If the presenter is using a podium and a projector, dim the room lights during the show and provide adequate lighting on the presenter.
  • Provide a good audio system with a wireless microphone, if possible.
  • At the end of the show, provide adequate time for, and assistance with, packing down the presenter’s demo equipment.
  • If the presenter did a good job, let them know by sending them an email a day or two after the show, copying their manager if possible.
  • If your MUG distributes their monthly newsletter via email, consider adding the presenter to your list of “subscribers” so that they can keep up to date with the activities of your MUG.

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