Events, Conferences, Speakers and those Moderators

Well, I have had quite the week of events…not many but enough to make note of how others run their shows.  Attending the occassional conference or gathering is important to me because of chairing the Business Smart Tools Conference…I am like an an actor who goes out into the field to study for a role.  I need to know what others are producing, how they are conveying their messages and if there are any formats that work better than others.  I also need to know if our content is up to date and still important!!

What I discovered is that there are many people who can speak on a variety of topics, experts who have first hand knowledge of their subjects.  This is all fine and good but the information they bring to the table needs to be managed by talented, personable, respectful and knowledgeable moderators who know how to listen and can be flexible and go with what may work at that moment.  Information needs to be harnessed and released so the audience both understands and expands their thought process while listening which I would like to think is the ultimate learning experience. 

This is not an easy task and this week proved it. 

In NYC last week at this time I attended a tech PR conference.  Again, good speakers, horrible moderators.  They didn’t fully understand the knowledge base of the speakers and for sure didn’t get the information out that the PR audience really needed.  The one overriding message I walked away with was that PR practioners are horrible people who lie and spam and bloggers and the traditional media hate them.  Now, I half way agree wtih the lying and spamming part but hello…this was an audience of public relations professionals…teach them, guide them, instruct them.  It was a big opportunity to bring foes together for a merger of the minds but the chance was lost for everyone…the speakers and the audience walked away feeling the same way they did when they first walked into the room which should never happen at any successful conference.

I attended another event last night in Stamford.  Again, great topic.  An Exec Chairman who blogs.  Everyone wants to know about his process, what walls he encountered, what joys he has discovered and do the media really read the blog and more.  The speaker did very well.  The moderator tried to do some homework but I know this guy and he has resisted social media from day one so what is this moderator doing getting up and talking to Mr. Exec Chair about blogging when he barely understands the medium himself?  On top of that, the moderator scolded an attendee for asking a question before the question time…ever heard of the UnConferences like Podcamp?  They are very successful because of their flexibility.  Oh and how about the time he told people not to get on their soapboxes with long winded salesy questions that only promote their own business but we had to hear about how he blogged once and talked to the media and how fun it was?  Sorry…I will stop now.

Having said all of this, I am always on a quest to improve the Business Smart Tools Conference.  I learn every year what made it great and what needs to be improved and I work very hard at being a moderator who can prepare engaging questions that tend to the needs of the audience.  I also work hard at listening during the panels so I can go with the flow and make the next question relevant to where the conversation is going.

My and Creative Concepts’ goals for the Business Smart Tools conference remain the same every year.  I want this conference to be a place where the message matters and the content becomes a truly educational experience.  No cash sponsors to infuse the panels with a pitch, each speaker is chosen because of the expereinces they can share, and each demo company has something noteworthy to show in a way that is beyond the typical Web 2.0 company that doesn’t have a business plan or revenue stream.

Based on past responses from the attendees, we have done a good job but keep in mind that we never stop improving, listening and sharing content that teaches more than it preaches.

Join us May 5, 2009.  Stamford Marriott.  I will be the one listening and making sure the attendees get the biggest bang for their buck!