Talk to me not at at me #trulondon

I was involved in a bit of a twitter exchange today about presentations and Powerpoint. The reality is I just don’t like the format and I think paying big $’s to be talked at is not the best use of my time.
No disrespect to the many people who put on excellent conferences that I either speak at or attend, but as a speaker or part of the audience I always wish we could just sit down and have a chat. that I could ask questions when I want to and tell the speaker directly the things I am interested in knowing. Conferences and presentations bore me. It’s not talking to me, it’s talking at me.
I accept that some visuals to show graphics can help explain a concept, but I’d rather you gave them to me on paper before the event or gave me a link to look for myself, and the opportunity to review at my own pace, prepare questions and spend my time with the author talking. Why do you need to see case studies on a 6 ft screen? Sorry, but it doesn’t really work for me and rarely adds much to the content. The odd video can be effective, but why not just play the video or show me the site? I can usually work out whats good about it without 20 slides to explain it.
I was recently following a conference via twitter. delegates had paid over £400 to attend. two of the biggest words in the twitter cloud by about 4.00PM were “Numb Bum” and “Product Pitch.”
Why do you need a top $ venue for a conference with the quality of the lunch and the coffee as a speaking point? I’d rather go somewhere that has the space to move around to avoid the numb bum, grab my own sandwich when I want it and go to a place with plenty of space. I’m more concerned with wi-fi than decor. I want space to move rather than rigid auditorium. Make the tickets cheaper and choose space that is functional rather than auditorium, and make sure there is plenty of power sockets.
All these comments kind of merge together in my thinking behind #tru. It’s a 3 day event, and the most expensive ticket is £170.00. You can reach these price points when you worry more about the content and less about the venue and the trimmings. You can create real conversation when people sit in circles, you have multiple track-leaders and Powerpoint is banned. This is real conversation talking with experts and novices alike and asking your own questions.

The venue for #trulondon

The #trulondon masterclass on Wednesday 16’th Feb is different again. The speakers will be talking case-studies and sharing data before the event. The talk consists of 10 minutes overview and 50 minutes for questions, with a panel quizzing the speaker made up of 3 attendees with questions or points to raise. The normal model is 50 minutes talk/watch and a max of 10 minutes for rushed questions. I want to turn that on its head because I think the ratio is the wrong way around. The questions are always the interesting bits.
Last week I was being chased for slides for a conference I’m speaking at. I caused a bit of panic when I sent back 2. One that said “this is me” and one that said “What questions do you have?”. Answering questions for 50 minutes and asking the audience for their answers saw me ranked as the top speaker and best session. I will be using this model whenever I’m asked to speak. It’s different, but it works. Talking with you not at you.

What do you think? Does the conference model still work for you? Let me know your thoughts.


#trulondon Venue:


4 comments on “Talk to me not at at me #trulondon

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bill Boorman, William Tincup and Social Recruiting, Bret Starr. Bret Starr said: Bill Boorman (The Recruiting Unblog) @BillBoorman Talk to me not at at me #trulondon http://bit.ly/dT8CMp […]

  2. Hi Bill

    I’m not in favour of banning things – except maybe smoking and eating burgers on trains 🙂 If PowerPoint had been banned from the ConnectingHR unconference we would never have experienced the challenge and power of Pecha Kucha. It’s not PowerPoint that gives me the creeps so much as the way folk abuse it. When used to display pictures, I think that imagery can add a flavour to a conversation, and a talk. And I’m OK with talks. I’ve learned many interesting things from listening to folk for a short while. Just not all day puhlease!

    Interaction is the life blood of a meeting, whether that meeting be between 2 or 100 people. And I have facilitated many conversations among 100 people. Not Q&A sessions – those aren’t conversations. Well they are – but they are primarily an interaction between the questioner and questionee and if you’re lucky and the question is a good one it may draw others in. I’m talking about real conversations taking place among a large group of people. Conversations which ebb and flow between small and large groups. We should talk about the power of these conversations when you have a minute.

    Anyway – I digress.

    I think the model you have described sounds interesting and we’ve spoken already about my regret at not being able to come and see it for myself. I’m confident you and your guests will have a lot of great conversations, learning and fun. This is turning into a somewhat mega reply and if I may I’d like to add one more thing.

    One of the easiest yet most rarely practiced ways of being interesting is to be genuinely interested in other people. I think the two slides you sent back to the conference organiser could be even more powerful without the first slide. Most people think the “this is me” bit is frankly boring. They don’t care about you – they care about what you know and how that might help me change my perspective or help other people. That tells them more about “this is me” than anything else ever could. So if there is time – I’d go back to that conference organiser and drop one more slide from your deck. But hang on – I thought you’d banned PowerPoint 🙂

    Cheers – Doug

  3. Bill

    I think that a speaker can be good or boring with or without slides. Just taking a broad brush approach to PowerPoint is like the government assuming that anyone getting on a plane is a terrorist until the security scanners prove otherwise. Oh, that is what they do…..

    See you at TRU – I’ll be using Prezi 🙂


  4. […] Confused already? Fore more on the unconference format, check out Bill’s post “Talk to me, not at me” […]

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