How you can be a better conference speaker + how to establish credibility and likeability

Chris Adams is a former Hollywood Exec from Participant Media who would “green light” and develop movies like An Inconvenient Truth and Syriana.

Chris has strong experience as a conference speaker at film conferences and more recently about social media. He also has strong (often contrarian) views on what makes a good conference speaker.

I’m keen to learn from Chris because I do some conference speaking on the topics of How to Work with the Media and Persuasive Communication – and I want to get better.

I study  and learn from youtube videos of Chris’s presentations – plus I have the advantage of being able to ask him questions directly when we catch up every month or so when we record a batch of videos for the Chris Adams Project.

Chris is happy to pass on lessons he has learned over the years including important lessons he has learned from mistakes he has made.

If you are asked to speak at a conference or an event here are Chris’s tips.  Even if you are an experienced speaker – here’s how you can get better.

Chris is so “Hollywood” with expressions like:

  • Going “off book”
  • “Own the environment – don’t just own the room”

One of my favourite communicators is George Clooney. Sure George is an actor but  he’s more than that – he can also work without a script someone else has written for him and George can engage with an audience and go “off book” and make the audience part of the event rather than hogging the limelight and always being the star.  George starred in Syriana – one of the films Chris was responsible for “green lighting” and making sure the movie fitted Participant’s vision.

This is George acting as a conference speaker in Up In the Air (remember his How Heavy is Your Backpack? Analogy).

Chris has met  George when George was starring in  Syriana – a work  acquaintance – or to coin a new term a “work-quaintance._ 

Now Chris is careful not to make too big a deal of his Hollywood experience and he only tells me about his working with certain stars because I ask him about it. The journalist in me tells him the Hollywood angle is interesting.

I guess Chris is used to people just wanting to talk to him about “star stuff”  rather than the subjects of  what he is really passionate about – movie making, story telling, and social media.

Anyway, enjoy Chris’s tips:



Here is a video of Chris in action as a conference speaker. I’ve studied and learned from it – and you can learn from it too – especially when it comes to establishing credibility and credentials (but in a likeable way)

Now in the speech he has to set the context of how he got to do what he’s doing – so naturally there is some “I did this – I did that.” (remember his comments on the Me train). 

And you will probably have to do a bit of “I did this” at the start of your presentation also –  to establish your credentials and credibility.

As you watch the video – look out for how Chris establishes credibility in a “likeable” way.

1.Chris includes some appropriate self-deprecatng comments (not too much – so it doesn’t erode credibility – he establishes that he is aware that he is not good at everything, but he is good at some things. Guy Kawasaki is a master at throwing in just a bit of self-deprecation to off-set all the things he IS good at. Nobody likes people who think they are good at everything!

2. Chris talks up and acknowledges the talents  and generosity of other people who have helped him get where he is today


One comment

  1. Chris Adams

    Well done Tony 🙂 Chris Adams Founding Partner +614 1043 7770

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