June 4, 2013


lots of empty seatsI’m more likely to watch a movie on a tiny tablet than on the big screen in a movieplex. Thanks Netflix. The experience is different but the convenience and flexibility more than make up for the small screen. No travel time. No parking hassles. No lining up.

I’m more likely to see a speaker for free online than live at a venue. This is scary because I’m a speaker too and want people to see me in person. I’m also starting a term as area governor for six Toastmasters clubs in west Toronto. These speakers need audiences too.

Quiet And Decisive

The nature of professional speaking seems to be changing.

Chip Heath and Roger Martin (Rotman 2013-05-27)Consider Susan Cain, author of Quiet. I’ve seen her TED Talk about introverts, listened to the audiobook and read interviews. She has a free live video chat on June 5th through Goodreads. I’ve got no strong desire to see her live in person. That’s not because I’m an introvert (though I am). It’s because I’ve already had enough.

Decisive is the new book by the Heath brothers. I saw Chip at Rotman last week. I already watched Dan's book launch webinar (see the WRAP on Decisive) and listened to Chris Brogan’s interview. Dan Pink interviewed both brothers on Office Hours.  That's enough. I’ve got the book. My next step is to read it and apply the lessons.

What’s Missing

In a live audience, I want interaction instead of a canned speech. Here’s a formula with appeal. I want to see speakers who show their contact information and reply to sensible emails.

I want to see speakers who have built a community (not a sales funnel). For instance Seth Godin started noncommercial Linchpin Sessions and Icarus Sessions to help us meet the like-minded locally in 1,000+ cities. I’ve found great connections there.

All-Day Speaker Events

The Art of MarketingThere are day-long events with speaker after speaker. You get a big name or two and filler. Examples for Toronto are
  • The Art of Marketing (Jun 5, 2013; $449+): Biz Stone, Seth Godin, Jonah Berger, Charles Duhigg, David Usher
  • A Passion for Life (Jul 24, 2013; $329+): Tony Robbins, Robert Greene, Chip Heath, Loretta LaRoche, Joe Plumeri, Desiree Rogers
I’ve attended several times in the past but am not going this time.

Local Heroes

You can see local speakers at local TEDx events. This is often better because you can also forge relationships with people in your community. That’s often the real value. The schedule has frequent long breaks to allow interaction.

Cheaper Options

Sometimes speakers are in major cities for low cost events. For instance, Rotman attracts many speakers. Last week Chip Heath. Next week, Mitch Joel. The admission price is roughly the list price of the book — and you get a copy of the book. It’s as is the speaker is free, as in a webinar or interview. Plus, you often get to talk to the speaker.

One + None

Tony Robbins live (click to enlarge)I’d rather see one speaker for longer.

For instance, Tony Robbins is excellent live. You can see him for five hours in Calgary for $289+.

You can see Seth Godin for a full day of Q&A in New York for $955+. In 2010, I attended The Linchpin Session, in which Seth presented in the morning and did Q&A in the afternoon.

What Still Works

If I can’t talk to the speaker, I’m not interested. If the speaker doesn’t provide contact information afterwards, count me out. If there isn’t a good chunk of time for Q&A, I’ll stay at home.

I still like attending live events in the audience or on stage. I’m much more selective and demanding, though. Do you feel the same way?


PS Who’s the last speaker you saw live and in person?

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