Most of the time, when I am asked by an event or conference to keynote or conduct a training session about brand management, social media ROI, or social media program development, I deliver some sort of presentation, eithet using Powerpoint or Prezi. The presentation format helps me create a structured visual narrative for my audience, and the visuals help clarify some of my points, which aren’t always easy to explain in a short amount of time. The presentations are then made available for download, and audience participants have the opportunity to revisit the session as often as they want, from the comfort of their own desk or couch.
All in all, I have several hundred slides and graphics to pick from (and more are added every week), so I manage to never really deliver the same presentation twice, and with good reason: Every audience is unique. Every event has its own specific focus. And from a personal angle, I can’t stand to deliver rehearsed presentation “performances.” I am not an actor or a performance artist. I don’t use scripts. Every time I “take the stage” and engage an audience, whether it is a small team of executives or a thousand digital marketing professionals, I want to make sure that the experience will be fresh and genuine. Nothing is rehearsed. If I could improvise these presentations 100% and use white boards instead of slides, I would.
Perhaps more to the point, if I could turn every such event into an open-mic Q&A rather than a monologue, I would. It seems to me that with so many people in an audience, with so many potential questions and problems to solve, delivering a 40 minute lecture and only leaving 10-15 minutes for questions at the end might be somewhat counterproductive. Perhaps standing there for an hour and answering questions about everything from digital crisis management to breaking down agency revenue models for social media account services might be more valuable to an audience.
I tested this theory last year at #Ungeeked Milwaukee, where I closed my laptop, grabbed a microphone, and let the room engage me with both strategic and tactical questions. Sometimes, I knew the answer. Sometimes, someone in the audience knew the answer. We turned the session into a broader conversation that I think was more interesting (at least to me) than clicking through 40 slides about whatever.
It looks like I will get a chance to repeat the experience somewhat this Saturday, on the final day of #Ungeeked Chicago. Unlike the Milwaukee event, I will bring a few talking points to get the session started, but I look forward to sitting down with the audience and having a real conversation with them. If you are going to be anywhere near Chicago Friday 13 and Saturday 14, check out the event and try to attend. Better yet, get your boss to pay for it.
Oh, and I will be signing copies of #smROI while I am there, so bring yours. We’ll hang out and talk shop as long as you want.
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And in case you haven’t picked one up yet (or your favorite client seems to be having trouble figuring out how to bring social media into their organization), you can pick up a fresh copy of Social Media ROI at fine book stores everywhere. If you have sworn off paper, you can also download it for iPad, Kindle, Nook or other e-formats at www.smroi.net.
(Click here for details, or to sample a free chapter.)