Awesome conference presentations – according to two Brits singing musicals in NYC

Faris Yakob on stage - taken from A Petter Idea blog

I was discussing the Mashable Summit, and the presentations that had worked the best, last night with Faris Yakob a riveting public speaker, Chief Innovation Officer at MDC Partners and all-round great bloke  (in between singing songs together, with other assembled culprits, from Sound of Music, and dancing to Michael Jackson. The things you do when you are with good people, serving good drinks, in a flat owned by a gay couple with a great musicals collection on LP… not that I need asking twice to sing tunes from classic musicals!).

Anyway, the conclusions we reached were that great conference presentations tend to:

1. Make just one key point and use the time to bring it to life through very surprising and memorable examples
2. Use memorable visuals to cement a point – not necessarily slides, but for example running across the stage faster and faster to demonstrate Moore’s Law
3. Give the audience some space to giggle at the start  – and make it personal
4. Tell the audience at least one interesting nugget they almost certainly didn’t know (eg. Kiichiro Toyoda, founder of Toyota, gave his factory workers tools and asked them to do whatever it took to speed up their own production line refittings – power to the people!)

We agreed that panel discussions – unlike solo talks – can be a minefield at conferences, because often no one panelist is prepared enough. So you end up hearing a lot of opinions you could have guessed each panelist would have held, but very few new facts.  What you want on a panel is an expert in that field armed with new or little known information  or someone who is ready to be contentious to liven things up.

Some stand-out presentations at the Mashable Media Summit NYC 2011 came from Tor Myren (@GreyGravy), Tony Haile (@arctictony), Eli Pariser and Faris (@faris).  With some other very likable presenters being NY Times journalist @brianstelter and the GM of Foursquare Evan Cohen (@evco)


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