I was involved in a bit of a twitter exchange today about presentations and Powerpoint. The reality is I just don’t like the format and I think paying big $’s to be talked at is not the best use of my time.
No disrespect to the many people who put on excellent conferences that I either speak at or attend, but as a speaker or part of the audience I always wish we could just sit down and have a chat. that I could ask questions when I want to and tell the speaker directly the things I am interested in knowing. Conferences and presentations bore me. It’s not talking to me, it’s talking at me.
I accept that some visuals to show graphics can help explain a concept, but I’d rather you gave them to me on paper before the event or gave me a link to look for myself, and the opportunity to review at my own pace, prepare questions and spend my time with the author talking. Why do you need to see case studies on a 6 ft screen? Sorry, but it doesn’t really work for me and rarely adds much to the content. The odd video can be effective, but why not just play the video or show me the site? I can usually work out whats good about it without 20 slides to explain it.
I was recently following a conference via twitter. delegates had paid over £400 to attend. two of the biggest words in the twitter cloud by about 4.00PM were “Numb Bum” and “Product Pitch.”
Why do you need a top $ venue for a conference with the quality of the lunch and the coffee as a speaking point? I’d rather go somewhere that has the space to move around to avoid the numb bum, grab my own sandwich when I want it and go to a place with plenty of space. I’m more concerned with wi-fi than decor. I want space to move rather than rigid auditorium. Make the tickets cheaper and choose space that is functional rather than auditorium, and make sure there is plenty of power sockets.
All these comments kind of merge together in my thinking behind #tru. It’s a 3 day event, and the most expensive ticket is £170.00. You can reach these price points when you worry more about the content and less about the venue and the trimmings. You can create real conversation when people sit in circles, you have multiple track-leaders and Powerpoint is banned. This is real conversation talking with experts and novices alike and asking your own questions.
The #trulondon masterclass on Wednesday 16′th Feb is different again. The speakers will be talking case-studies and sharing data before the event. The talk consists of 10 minutes overview and 50 minutes for questions, with a panel quizzing the speaker made up of 3 attendees with questions or points to raise. The normal model is 50 minutes talk/watch and a max of 10 minutes for rushed questions. I want to turn that on its head because I think the ratio is the wrong way around. The questions are always the interesting bits.
Last week I was being chased for slides for a conference I’m speaking at. I caused a bit of panic when I sent back 2. One that said “this is me” and one that said “What questions do you have?”. Answering questions for 50 minutes and asking the audience for their answers saw me ranked as the top speaker and best session. I will be using this model whenever I’m asked to speak. It’s different, but it works. Talking with you not at you.
What do you think? Does the conference model still work for you? Let me know your thoughts.