Reminders for Frequent Speakers

I went to Blogword Expo about a month ago, and attended a couple of sessions put on by “Internet Famous” people. Their blogs are pretty well-known, their books are at Barnes & Noble, and they speak at conferences. A lot.

Guess what? Some of them were really bad presenters. As I was thinking about why this was, I came up with a few things to do / not to do when presenting … even if you think you are Mr. or Ms. Popular in whatever speaker circuit you frequent. Here they are:

Inside jokes? Don’t use them. One guy took the first five minutes of his talk to pass inside jokes to “his crowd” … which seemed to consist of a few buddies sitting on the front row. This was in a room of about 200 people. So there were about 5-10 people in on the joke. The other 190 of us? Not so much.

Inside jokes can be fun – if you bring everyone else inside with you. Use the joke as a point in your talk, and surround it with the full story. That way, everyone is in on the fun, you can tell your joke, and “your crowd” will still enjoy it too. I actually saw another speaker do that – he gave the background info, then used a person or two as an example, and it worked really well. Inside joke success.

Always give an introduction. You are not that popular. I’ve heard this from a speaker more than once – “You all know me, so I’m going to skip the introduction.” Guess what? We don’t all know you. The guy who did this at Blogworld Expo has a book out, and his blog is very popular. But I didn’t know who he was – never heard of the book or the blog, never attended any of his presentations before. I spent the next five minutes hunting down his blog instead of listening.

Yes, you know some of the people in the room. Yes, you know all the other speakers at the conference. Give at least a brief introduction anyway. At the conferences I regularly attend, the majority of people attending the sessions aren’t “regulars.” It’s either their first time at the conference, or they can only attend once every few years. So chances are, you are new to them. So make a quick introduction.

I’m too cool for slides. Same guy at Blogword Expo actually said this – “I’m too cool for slides.” Sure, Powerpoint presentations can be sorta boring if done poorly, and they aren’t always needed. But honestly – most of the time, if you are talking about the geek stuff I go to conferences for (technology, blogs, marketing, social media, etc), slides help drive home your point. You can SHOW that Twitter conversation. You can SHOW those Facebook Page stats. You can SHOW how your new-fangled technology site works.

Or, take a clue from the emerging web, which is getting more visual every day (i.e., Instagram, Viddy, Pinterest, etc). Your speech is good. Your speech, plus something to look at besides your head, is even better. Especially if the slides compliment the point you’re trying to make.

Prepare. At least the day before. One of the keynote speakers said he was working on his talk that morning in the cab ride to the convention center. And you could tell. The talk had some fine points, and the speaker knew his material, but he also stumbled quite a bit through the points he was trying to make. A little more practice and preparation would have done wonders for his talk.

So, you know. Get your slides done before you get to the conference. Actually run through the presentation once (with a timer). Preparation and practice are boring, but if you do the work, it will definitely pay off “on the stage.”

Your turn. What else should be here?

Lots of Blog Posts Headed Your Way!

BookExpo AmericaJust a head’s up about next week for y’all. On Monday-Thursday, I will be frantically attending three concurrent conferences in New York City:

BEA Bloggers ConferenceAnd if you can believe it, I’ll attempt to blog the whole thing! Well, my view of the whole thing, anyway. So – look for a bunch of session notes type blog posts next week about anything from ebooks and publishers to how to improve a podcast. Maybe even a video or two.

My posts will be heavy on the Blogworld side of things, but there are some really interesting-sounding ebooks/publishers/libraries talks going on too, and I think both you and I will find those interesting!

Yessirree, I will be in geek heaven. Just sayin :-)

Blogworld Expo

Check out LISEvents

The always excellent Blake Carver, who runs LISNews and LISHost (they do an awesome job of hosting my website), has recently created a new tool for us library types – LISEvents.

Here’s what Blake says about LISEvents:

“LISEvents is a community-based site intended to aggregate listings of library-related events of all types, sizes, and locations. The site also helps speakers find gigs and event planners find speakers.”

Blake’s goal is to list every conference,large and small, that might be of interest to those of us working in libraries. There’s also a place for speakers (just added myself).

So – check it out, add your library-related events, and add yourself, if you like that public speaking thing!

Organizing a Podcamp

This past Saturday, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library co-hosted (with WIBW Studios) our first Podcamp  – Podcamp Topeka. Don’t know what a podcamp is? It’s an unconference dedicated to web 2.0 tools and social media (read more about them here). It was a blast! You can some of my notes from the day here, watch my video about it above, and you can read Brandon Sheley’s notes here (he attended and lead a session or two), and even watch a quick video from channel 49 news.

So – how did I organize this thing?

OK – first things first. It’s a podcamp – there’s really not much conference planning to do. The details revolve around meeting rooms, food, and potential schwag – not the actual conference schedule. The important planning revolves around how many people you hope to attract – you have to have enough space to accomodate them. Also how long each session should be – and be able to accomodate that. Then, it runs itself (more on that in a minute).

Use your contacts for help. I poked around a bit on the interwebs, and found out Ryan Deschamps, cool librarian and blogger at The Other Librarian,  had organized some very successful podcamps. So I asked him for tips, and he emailed me some great advice on how to run a podcamp.

Sponsorships – the library provided meeting rooms and our other sponsor, WIBW, paid for food and t-shirts. How’d that happen? In this case, I know Jim Ogle, the general manager of WIBW, and also know he’s excited as I am about social media and 2.0 stuff. So I asked him if he wanted to help plan the podcamp, and he did … and he ended up being a sponsor, too. For future events, I’m told that some local organizations might potentially be interested in sponsoring the event.

Ask for Specifics. Know how much money you need up-front, then ask specifically for your needs! Much better to have a plan for what you need (and what they’ll get out of a sponsorship) than to vaguely ask for “a sponsorship” hoping someone will provide what you need.

Registration: it was a free event, but I asked everyone to register, since a head-count was involved for t-shirts and food. Eventbrite worked GREAT for this! Free and easy to use – we had over 100 registrations. I was able to email a reminder to all attendees 3-4 days before the event through Eventbrite’s admin side. They actually sent me a couple of pre-event emails making suggestions on how to run an event (ie., do you have nametags?), too.

What actually happened?

People goal: our goal was up to 150. We had over 100 people register, and approx 50-75 people actually attend. Not bad for a first time.

Interestingly, we had an odd but fun mix of people. We had a variety of skill levels from experienced user of 2.0 tools to extreme novices and an age spread from probably age 20 -85 (someone actually came up afterwards and told me how old she and her friend were). So we improvised a “Basics of Social media” session that turned into one of our larger sessions.

Food and t-shirts: I went ahead and ordered t-shirts and food for 150, not knowing how many would really show up. So we had … a LOT of food. And I have a box of Podcamp Topeka T-Shirts in my office…

Schedule: You can see it here – we ended up with quite a few great topics and sessions!

Planning details: PBWorks (used to be PBWiki) worked great. Here’s our Podcamp Topeka Wiki.

Advertising: This is interesting. We advertised in our library newsletter, in 2.0 tools (twitter, facebook), on our website, at a social media group’s Ning site, and were lucky enough to get a TV spot or two (since WIBW was a co-sponsor). We asked attendees to fill out a “how you heard about this” flyer – only 22 people filled it out. But look at their responses to where they heard about our podcamp:

TV – 4
friends – 2
twitter – 2
facebook – 2
our website – 2
didn’t say – 2
social media KC Ning group – 2
online – 2
invite – 2
Google – 1
tscpl email – 1 (guessing it was our enewsletter)

That’s a pretty large spread of responses!

And finally, Feedback. What did attendees think of the day? Honestly, most of the feedback I received was some form of this – “What a GREAT day! When’s the next one?”

So – we’ll have to start planning the next Podcamp Topeka, I guess!