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Tag Archives: SXSW

Here are (just a few of) my presentation pet peeves. If you want me to pay attention and be impressed, don’t do these things.

Buzzword Bingo

Scripting your presentation
If you don’t know it without a script, why should I listen to what you have to say about it?

Using too much “marketing speak”
If I can win Buzzword Bingo, you lose.

Jumping in too fast without laying the groundwork
Make sure the audience is all on the same page. This includes defining any unfamiliar terms you may use.

SPAMing me when I register for your webinar
Yes, I’m interested in your webinar, but I’m not necessarily interested in everything you have to say.

Other presentation Pet Peeves:

  • Leaving the mouse pointer in the middle of the screen – seriously distracting
  • Standing in front of the screen
  • Using stock photography without paying for it (i.e. images with watermarks)

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Last year I was on the planning committee for Social Media Atlanta with Bert DuMars and Stephanie Frost. It was a huge success with over 50 events and 3,000 attendees. This year, we wanted to do the same event, but rebrand it to include mobile, gaming, etc. This year, we present: Digital Atlanta

As an organizer for Digital Atlanta, I attended an event on conferences at SXSW called, Conference Startups: Grassroots Innovation Rocking the Event World. I was able to learn a lot from people who had put on events for longer than I have. More about that later…

Here was the most interesting takeaway: We took a poll of the room (about 60 people) and asked, “Which event format do you prefer?” The results were very surprising.

  • 80% core conversation
  • 10% good speaker
  • 10% interview
  • And ONE person said that they preferred a panel format

Do panels bore people? Are we burned out on that format? More importantly, if this is how attendees feel, why is every conference crammed full of panel discussions?

As we continued our conversation we found that, generally speaking, Beginners prefer presentations at conferences and Practitioners prefer conversations. Do you find this is true? How advanced are you in digital media? Which format do you prefer?

Thanks to Chris Schultz and Patrick Vlaskovits for presenting Conference Startups: Grassroots Innovation Rocking the Event World at SXSW.

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  • Attendees pay a significant amount of money to attend an event.
  • A speaker takes several hours to prepare for the event.
  • Attendees spend the entire event looking down at their phones and tablets.

Is there a disconnect here? Are attendees not paying attention, or worse, being disrespectful? Chances are that they are engaging in a new way – either Tweeting or following a Twitter stream for the event.

Attendees are already Tweeting. Make it easier for them.

Provide a hashtag for your event

If you offer an event hashtag from the beginning, users won’t have to go through the confusing and disjointed process of crowdsourcing their own hashtag. One common hashtag makes it easier for you to follow conversations about your event and for attendees to join the conversation.

Provide a unique hashtag for every panel/presentation

This is especially important if you have multiple presentations throughout your event. The hashtag is important for the same reasons mentioned above, but having a unique one for each presentation allows those conversations to stand out from the general event conversation.

Seed your crowd

People tweet more when there is more tweeting going on. Quote speakers, ask questions, and re-tweet attendees’ comments.

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These are the ten things I’m thinking about (in no particular order).

  1. SXSW
  2. First Impressions
  3. Lasting Impressions
  4. Digital Atlanta (Twitter and Facebook accounts)
  5. Archiving Social Media
  6. STS – 134
  7. Tagging
  8. Content Curation
  9. Online Privacy
  10. My New iPad

What’s on your mind? What are you trying to figure out?

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SXSW Trade ShowThe Trade Show was open the last couple of days during the Interactive track of SXSW. If you wanted to collect your due swag, this was the place to get it. Vendors were giving away almost anything you’d think: buttons, stickers, flyers, bags, and T-shirts (I walked out of SXSW with 9 free T-shirts).

Some of the booths were successful. Success = As an attendee, my impression of you was positively impacted as a result of your presence at SXSW.

Some of the booths were failures. Failure = As an attendee, my impression of you was negatively impacted as a result your presence at SXSW. Or, what is a bigger waste of money, I had no idea you were even at SXSW.

The Best

Twonky Home PageTwonky – This was the first booth I saw when I walked into the Trade Show. Kudos for being right by an entrance. They handed out free sunglasses and free cards with their website address. While I wasn’t quite sure what Twonky was when I walked away, my positive experience drove me to learn more. By the way, Twonky is “…not another piece of expensive equipment. Twonky is a line of software and applications for your PC, Mac or mobile phone that finds all of your digital media collections and shares them with PCs, TVs, stereos and other devices connected to your network.”

Moby – What is Moby? I have no idea. Seriously – not a single clue. During the week, Moby representatives were walking around wearing shirts designed with huge QR codes and the question “Do You Know What Moby Is?”, passing out flyers with the same QR code and question. I never actually scanned the QR code. With so many at SXSW, I couldn’t scan every code I saw. When I finally came across their booth in the Trade Show, I was relieved. I’d finally be able to figure out what this was. I didn’t really care…but I just had to find out. At the booth, I was handed a flyer, but not given an answer. I was told, however, that if I visited their website ( and got on the invite list, they would contribute $1 to Safe Pace: Ending Sexual & Domestic Violence. You can’t go wrong with that. I went to the website to (hopefully) learn more. No luck. I was greeted with an option to get on the invite list.

“There are the obvious answers, then there is our App!
Register now to be on our exclusive invite list!

If sheer curiosity isn’t a big enough incentive,
for every registration we will donate $1 to – a charity supporting victims of domestic violence.”

After I submitted my email address, I was told that I could invite my friends to do the same for a chance to win an iPad 2 (who wouldn’t love that) and to spread the word with Facebook Connect and Twitter widgets.

Now, I’m on an invite list (for something I don’t know what I’m being invited to) and I’ve invited my friends. I don’t need to know, but it’s bugging me. I want to find out. What is MOBY?!

Veer – I was already familiar with Veer (stock photos, illustrations, and fonts) and was happy to see their presence at SXSW. They just did everything right.

  • Gave away free buttons
  • Gave away free awesome T-shirts (highly coveted swag)
  • Nicely designed business cards and other promotional items – You’d be surprised by the number of promotional flyers that looked as though they were thrown together the night before.
  • Visually attractive booth layout – I wish I had taken a picture of it. It wasn’t over the top and didn’t look as though it was any more expensive to put together. It was just done with thought.
  • I learned something – Veer recently added a new section to their site where you can download free images weekly and a free font every month, plus wallpapers, screen savers, and their very fun and popular activity books. This gets me going to the website and coming back at least once a week.

The Worst

LifeProof – This is an example of how your entire branding can crumble with one bad first impression. Scary, right? LifeProof sells cases for iPhones and iPads and claim to stand up to water, dirt, snow, and shock. It was a very cool concept and it drew me in. I was ready to see this in action. The representative pulled an iPhone out of a water tank and just as I was expecting this product to prove itself, I heard him say, “uh-oh.” The iPhone wasn’t turning back on. It turns out the battery had died and he had to recharge it. I walked away without ever seeing if the product worked. What could have been a positive first impression was ruined because someone forgot to charge the battery.

Craiggers – They claim to have “craigslist data, better than craigslist!” Do they? I don’t know. I went to their website, entered in a simple search term, and waited 3 minutes with this “searching” screen before I left their site. I came back to see if the condition had improved, but I got the “searching” screen for every search. If you aren’t ready to launch your site, don’t launch your site.

OneWay Commerce – With the expansion of e-commerce on sites and several companies exploring e-commerce on Facebook, I was excited to learn more about this company. They claim to be “Your Storefront on Facebook” and tout benefits such as: social strategy, easy setup, low fees, QuickBooks integration, security, and easy order processing. However, when I at their social widgets (letting you ‘Like” them on Facebook and Tweet about them), I realized that they only had 25 people ‘Like’ them on Facebook. Now, Facebook numbers are not everything, but if you are a company guaranteeing results on Facebook, you should be doing better than 25 people.

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These are the ten things I’m thinking about (in no particular order).

  1. Gamestorming
  2. Printing Twitter and Facebook Posts
  3. SXSW
  4. WOM & WOMMA Ethics
  5. Tagging
  6. Content Curation
  7. Online Privacy
  8. Personalized Search Results vs. Serendipity
  9. Future of Education
  10. 9-5 Tweeting
  11. BONUS – My Birthday! (it’s tomorrow)

What’s on your mind? What are you trying to figure out?

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