Let me say from the outset that I am still buzzing over the quality of information circulating at this conference; not only were the speakers sharing their wisdom and wit but also the other attendees, too. It was a fantastic place to be for three days.
I’m not going to review every single speaker for one very simple reason: I didn’t attend every session. I took the opportunity to visit some clients and make some presentations about all this Social Media/Web2.0 stuff to various senior managements, which meant that sometimes I couldn’t be at the summit.
But amongst the superb information provided by every single speaker that I *did* witness there were some stand-out moments for me (seeing as how I’m a Social Media evangelist) which I would like to share.
Firstly, for me there was the opportunity to meet such luminaries as Angela Sinickas, David Grossman and Sue Dewhurst, as well as finally meeting (face-to-face) Alex Manchester, Katrina Andrews and Justine Atkinson from Melcrum.
The ‘Word of the Summit’
Harry Baxter from the Defence Materiel Organisation kindly provided the ‘Word of the Conference’: ‘honking‘ – as in honkingly large, or honkingly great. Once Harry had slipped it into his superbly laconic and witty presentation there was no stopping its wholesale adoption. David Grossman was not alone in looking forward to trying it out on his clients!
Converting the conservatives
Claudia Carr from the NSW Attorney General’s Department blew me and many others in the room away with how she had taken a bunch of ultra-conservative lawyers and turned them from Unsocial Mediarists into Social Media advocates. Okay, well perhaps ‘advocates’ is a bit strong, but certainly ‘users’.
Claudia left us all muttering to ourselves that if *she* can implement blogs, wikis, web polls, bulletin boards, instant messaging, project-based collaboration tools, rss feeds and customised content amongst a bunch of [gasp] government lawyers, then what excuses can *we* find not to implement similar into our own organisation or those of our clients…
Twenty-somethings and Princesses
Peter Ekstedt from HP Asia Pacific walked us through the terrible problems of ‘internal spam’ and trying to segment an audience; HP’s could be segmented in a million different ways. HP Asia-Pacific also differed from its US counterparts by having a workforce on average 10 years younger — meaning that many of the employees in the AP region were in their 20s and already using Web2.0 communication tools. Their solution of a personalised e-newsletter is not new, but has been implemented in a clever and effective way (“20-odd email spam newsletters down, only another few hundred to go”).
Naturally it has come up against the ‘Content Princesses’ (those other managers that deem such solutions fantastic for everyone else but them, because *their* content is ‘different’). Peter confirmed what we all knew – that Princesses need love and care and the speedy application of a cricket bat to their skull.
Actually, that last point is *my* own remedy, but I’m sure Peter would agree
Social Media only a third priority
During the second day there were many ‘break out’ sessions where groups could gather and discuss the key themes that concerned them as business communicators. Of little surprise was the popularity of ‘remote, hard to contact employees’ and ‘leadership communication’ above Social Media.
Many of the attendees said they would personally *love* to introduce some Social Media initiatives into their organisations, but it is the former two issues that cause them the most amount of grief at the moment. Get those two ‘out of the way’, they said, and they’d happily take on Social Media as their number one priority.
Death by PowerPoint
Ask any manager what irks them most and deadly-dull PowerPoint presentations would rank highly, up there with deadly-dull and pointless meetings. Sadly, crowded and over-wordy PowerPoints were still rife, even amongst business communicators who you would think would know better.
Despite the best efforts of folks like Garr Reynolds (Presentation Zen) and Cliff Atkinson (Beyond Bullets), the urge to cram as many words as possible on a slide and then read them out to the audience is sadly still a part of us.
The only ‘bright light’ in this regard was David Grossman, although Sue Dewhurst and Claudia Carr came close with presentations relatively clear of textual clutter.
David deserves a whole review to himself. His was an exemplar on how clear and lucid a presentation could be. With great graphics, plenty of interaction and thought-provocation, and a superb speaking voice, I can only assume that he has led his clients through media training of some sort, as he obviously was trained in it himself.
David should stand as an example to all of us in the business of communication — the ability to be able to stand in front of an audience and communicate clearly and professionally is a learned skill, honed by hours of practice and performance. He is a Master Class all by himself.
All in all, a fantastic two day summit/conference (what’s the difference between a summit and a conference?) and I was very flattered to be asked to run a half-day Pre-Summit workshop on Social Media, during which I hope I infected some of the attendees with my passion and enthusiasm for all things Web2.0-ish.
Thanks for asking me, Melcrum, and I look forward eagerly to next year’s summit.