Monday, June 18, 2007

The UnConference

Vickie Sullivan is a grand oracle of the speaking business. I love her newsletter, as it is always interesting and has useful advice for speakers, trainers, authors and others who take the stage.

This week she talked about the changes that are happening to the organization of meetings and seminars. I have heard a lot about the concept of the "unconference"....where there is not a formal agenda, and audience helps drive the content on the fly, rather than having the whole thing scripted in advance by a meeting planner or committee. I have yet to attend one of these events (I hear they are all the rage in the technology industry in Silicon Valley), but look forward to seeing one in action.

Vickie's advice to professional speakers who worry how this will impact business is:

"On the top of the list is the "unconference" concept, which features, among other things, spontaneous content designed by the attendees. Let's all take a breath here - this development doesn't point to the end of speakers as we know it. Don't think for a minute that buyers are going to risk losing attendance by not inviting the gurus. What it really means: gurus get grilled by the audience, instead of controlling their environment with prepackaged content. And that's a good thing for facilitators and other group dynamic experts. This is a skill every expert needs to have".

I love delivering truly interactive presentations. I prioritize getting the audience actively involved when I speak, as it makes it much more fun for the attendees and the speaker. Some want to make sure that they are in total control when they are on stage... but giving a professional talk is the same as starring in a one man show on Broadway. Instead it should be a give and take exchange with everyone in the room. However, sometimes the audience is not prepared to jump in and "grill" the speaker....even during scheduled Q&A...they just sit there. This is less fun for everyone.

The active exchange of thoughts and ideas is paramount to learning, plus it facilitates the building of community. To have a guru spitting words from the podium does not build a network for the speaker or his/her audience. Having a conversation is what advances relationships.

I think the "Unconference" is great. Infact, I think that I am going to make one happen for the Bootstrap-Austin Publishing Subgroup later this summer.

Have A Great Day.


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