I had such a good time at the NYC 140 conference. Most of you reading this didn’t get the chance to come out to this amazing event. In fact, if it weren’t for a real-time contest by the event organizer and host Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) I never would’ve been able to be at this event that explores the state of the real-time web. Did you catch that? Real-time contest that got me to a real-time conference?
I’ve discovered something extraordinary about the nature of conferences because of this experience.
- You don’t have to be a great speaker to get onto a stage
- Speakers are just ONE component
- Expand the conversation, don’t just preach to the choir
I’d like to briefly examine each of these learnings.
You don’t have to be a great speaker to get onto a stage
This is not meant to be disrespectful, and I don’t intend to call anyone out. My purpose here is simply to say that there is opportunity for anyone with a good idea to get on a stage and talk to people. This is a HUGE opportunity and one you would be wise to be prepared for.
I recommend getting a speaking coach if you aren’t comfortable with public speaking or engaging with the audience. Some people lack passion or exhuberance in their delivery, if you aren’t excited, why should I be? You have the possibility of a captive audience but with all of the devices (iPhone, iPad, laptops, etc.) they are also easily distracted, so you need to capture them early. Some speakers even requested that the audience close their laptops or put down their phones.
If you aren’t a great speaker, work on it.
Speakers are just ONE component
If you went to the 140 conference (#140conf) and JUST listened to the speakers, you probably had a pretty good time. You may have learned a few things. Some presentations really touched you while others, quite frankly you could live without. With 140 speakers you’re bound to have a few that miss the mark.
If you were to attend the 140 conference and spend 25-60% of your time out in the “shmoozing” area, not only will you enjoy yourself, but you will make some real life connections with some extraordinary people; and isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? You can read a book or a blog or watch the recorded 140 conference on UStream, but you only get so many chances in life to talk face-to-face with people who you would only recognize because of their Twitter profile picture.
The real path to #winning at these conferences, is to get the F- out there and meet some awesome people. Connect. Engage. Learn. Grow. Network. Help one another.
Expand the conversation, don’t just preach to the choir
For god’s sake people understand your audience. No one at 140 needs to be told that social media is important. This is our industry, this is our passion. If we didn’t already buy-in, then what the F- are we doing at the 140 conference?!?!
Too many speakers got up and gave the same old self-congratulatory, “social media is important” song and dance. It’s not the I disagree, obviously. It’s that we get that, so what’s next? “What’s next” is the reason we’re here. We’ve read the blogs, we’ve read the books and we all think Gary V is the fucking man! What’s next?
What’s next is to expand our minds, show us something we’ve never seen before.
The Detroit Medical Center guy, was amazing. I had never seen a medical center using social media in that way, it was fascinating AND touching.
Christopher Penn rocked it! He used specific, well-known superheros to illustrate a point and then showcase a bigger narrative about helping people. It was compelling.
When the audience walks away you want them screaming “yeah!” rather than groaning “I get it already.” The key to do that is to open their minds and give them something profound, or at the very least actionable to take back with them.
My #140conf shout outs
I’ve said my peace, I hope it resonates with you. Now it’s time to give some shout-outs.
Thanks to Bruce Sallan and Google Instant, I now have a new book to read.
Shout out to so many other people who I met, that number in the hundreds, and would take me all week to name individually, thank you, it was a blast!
Thanks to the Roger Smith Hotel. You are crushing it.
And finally, thanks to Jeff Pulver for putting on a kick ass 140 conference and running a competition so that I could actually afford to be there. Thank you Jeff, sincerely.