Sunday, 17 January 2010

Social media at conferences

 

   I’m doing more conference blogging this week (from the European HR Directors Business Summit at Strategic HCM).

And I’ve just been thinking about Liene Stevens’ question in the recent Carnival of Trust: is ethical to publicly post content - that people are charging money for - to an audience that is not paying for it?

Well, certainly in one way it is – in that I’ve been invited to the conference to blog.  But I still think there’s a question over how much it’s OK to include, and I’m not sure what the answer to this is.

Part of the issue is that we’re at a point in a process, where many people are now comfortable with social media usage at conferences, and others probably don’t understand what’s going on.

So part of the what we need to do to answer the question is to educate conference presenters and attendees.  We all need to understand the way things are now going to be (I don’t think there’s any way of stopping this unless conference organisers ask for mobile devices, cameras and computers to be handed in at the door!).

I think the list of changes which have recently been published at Event Coup is quite useful.  But this is for conference organisers, so I’ve done my own list for presenters:

  1. Attendees will be exchanging thoughts about your presentation while you’re presenting and afterwards as well.

  2. These exchanges may be supported by pictures and videos of you presenting, and which you don’t know are being taken.

  3. These exchanges will be going outside of the conference room, and will remain in the internet after you’ve finished presenting too.

  4. If your slides are being distributed to attendees, these may end up in the public area too.

  5. People from outside the conference room will be providing their own thoughts on what you’re presenting.

  6. You may be able to get some input from these exchanges – either live or moderated / summarised.  If you can get it, use it.

  7. At the very least, ensure there is time for Q&A and discussion.  Audiences want to have their voice heard.

       

    This still doesn’t deal with the ethics point, but I think it reinforces the need for presenters to add value, beyond what’s contained in their slides or the text of their presentation.

     

    Of course, the biggest change may be whether presenters get to present at all.

    As I’ve blogged quite recently, I’m one of a large number of people proposing to present at this Summer’s Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.

    These proposals have been collected on Spigit and are being voted on right now (you can vote for me here).

    I’ve expressed concern about the value of this process, as, the way it’s being run, it comes down eventually to whose got the most friends, rather than what sessions actual attendees want to see.

    But I think doing something similar within a closed group of attendees, or within a closed population (inside an organisation for example), would be a really useful thing to do.

     

    Picture: Cliff Atkinson - Backchannel, The: How Audiences are Using Twitter and Social Media and Changing Presentations Forever

     

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