How we listen and how we talk to each other is evolving because of Social Media. Face to face conversations remain much the same but group discussions and sharing information is becoming richer with individual expression and involvement.
For example, presentations are no longer a one way street where the presenter talks at the audience with only the brave or loud speaking up to ask questions during the session. The quiet, thoughtful or shy among us, who often hold the most valuable input, have a new voice to express their opinions. Instant Micro blogging platforms such as Twitter enable audience group discussions to be made during presentations under the nose of the speaker. Is this a bad or good thing?
It was in evidence today at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston (USA) and was even being encouraged by the organisers, TechWeb with their ‘Backchannel’, a Twitter type service. Conference 2.0 with two way communication as I called it out to Steve Wylie. It was like watching a voting system where the speaker and their content was reviewed in real-time. This can go very badly for the speakers as with the well know South-by-Southwest interview with Sarah Lacy or very well as with IBM presentation today I sat in on.
Unfortunately it did not go so well for Lawrence Liu, from Microsoft, who brought in real boxing gloves onto the stage he shared with IBM. It seems he was dealt a KO blow by IBM’s Connection product demo judging by the audiences instant blogging silent but strong conversations.
In fact several of the audience, including Susan Scrupski, said to me that the real-time discussion on instant blogging was the most valuable part of the session. It is interesting how the value is within an shared discussion and not what we are told. Perhaps there are lessons to be learnt for management and in encouraging innovation. Conference presenters hold a lot of power over an audience just as senior management do over organisational discussions. Both conversations need to be unrestricted and even nurtured to bring involvement and realise the power and value of many creative minds.