Thursday, March 18, 2010

live and direct

Tim "Mumbrella" Burrowes is over live blogging (or tweeting) and Katie "GetShouty" Chatfield is feeling the same way.

It's important to note that this kind of activity is still limited to certain events full of "webby" people. Many of the events I go to have no live blogging nor tweeting (and varying proportions of live attendees). So this is a bit of a minority issue but let's assume these behaviours will spread over time.

Rather than seeing tweeting and blogging as potentially distracting activities and so a disaster, I think they may be an opportunity to improve the event experience - if used with a bit of thought by the savvy presenter.

I am not really a fan of straight "presenting". My short attention span means that I'm getting bored of my own voice just after the first slide. I would much rather have others play with and critique or extend my ideas rather than have them received as so much cognitive junk mail - and these new whizz-bang "Web 0.2" technologies allow this to happen. If you build twitter-based activities into your session or offer 3 questions you want to invite the audience to blog about at the end, then you are creating a space for this interaction. At other times, you can invite participants to put down their devices and briefly give you their full attention.

This does require those with a "speaking" role to act more like facilitators than presenters. It means that you probably have to learn improv as well as voice projection, posture, storytelling and visual design to be good at this. It also means that speakers have to accept a more humble but ultimately more powerful role than "the sage on the stage". The only justifiable reason to get on a stage is to change the world a little bit, everything else is ego. And if you want to change the world, that means that the action is out there in the audience - they are the future and you, as a speaker, are the past. You have to go where the action is and tools like twitter can light up the action for you like a flare.

So what else can we do to make events better?