Do you ever bet on the horses? I don’t, as a rule, but I have been to the races a couple of times and, in my complete ignorance about anything at all to do with horse racing, I do what loads of us do: I choose based on the name! I pick a name that stands out, or one that means something to me. Something about that horse’s name must draw me in and get me to engage. I make a snap decision about whether or not to join that horse’s journey based on a couple of words.

Now imagine you’re giving a talk at a conference.

There are loads of speakers, and delegates are handed a list as they enter the conference centre, telling them the names and titles of all the talks on offer.

Unless the speaker is well known, or an attendee has heard them speak, they have nothing to go on but the title of the talk.

That title is what will help the delegate know which horse to back.

How do you make sure the title of your talk is one that will compel everyone to fight for a seat at your presentation?

  1. Spark their curiosity

Conferences are meant to be events that drive industry forwards, so if you can excite people about new methods or research that will benefit them, you’re going to inspire people to come and listen.

For example, a speech at a teaching conference with this title:

“New research data shows the impact of self-regulation training in primary schools”

plays on people’s natural curiosity – what teacher of primary-aged children wouldn’t be excited to learn more about this?

  1. Use the lure of a story

I teach my clients all about the power of storytelling during their presentations, and that power begins from the get-go.

“How a struggling teacher learnt to help her pupils with their emotional well-being after the trauma of Covid-19 shutdowns” uses empathy to connect with an audience, and tells them how the presentation will solve their problems, too.Faced with a list of titles, who wouldn’t choose to listen to a talk that promised to tell us a story?

  1. Tap in to their fears

We all worry about getting stuff wrong, and when someone offers a solution to our worries, we can’t help but be drawn in.

“The dangers to children’s learning from their emotional dysregulation” is a powerful title that will provoke concern – can a teacher afford to miss this presentation?

  1. Show what’s in it for them

Why should I come to your talk over anyone else’s? What am I going to get out of it? A title such as, “Emotional regulation in primary pupils” isn’t nearly as compelling as, “How to teach your children to regulate their emotions and access their learning in a safe and happy classroom”.

  1. Remember the rule of three

Human beings don’t like surprise, and if we know exactly what we’re going to get, we’re more likely to choose that option.

“The three ways you can support pupils’ emotional development” not only appeals to our attraction to the rule of three, but also sets up a little challenge for the potential audience: do they already know what they are? Can they risk missing out on a talk that will tell them THE three most important methods when it comes to children’s mental health?

When you have written your presentation, refer back to your key message and create an ACTIVE title that hooks people in, shows what’s in it for them, promises to teach them something new and isn’t going to be boring!

If you need help with your next presentation, get in touch.