Sunday, May 26, 2019

A Simple Playbook for Effective Conference Presence

I spent most of the last week at Citrix Synergy in Atlanta. Synergy is one of the primer conferences on end-user computing. With the conference happening at a massive venue at Georgia World Congress building and 5000 plus people attending, I got to interact with many customers, partners and colleagues.
One of my colleague who captured everyone's attention was Manbinder Singh. Manbinder is a Senior technologist at Citrix's. He had a few expert sessions at Synergy and he pulled them off well with his technical acumen. For me, one of the highlights was how Manbinder pulled off a great presence at the event.

Rather than me starting to put in words, let me start by sharing this video from his session.

Let me dissect what you saw in this video in what I call a simple playbook for effective conference presence.

Key principles in building effective conference presence:

1. Be as interesting (to others) as you can be.
2. Bring your own uniqueness to the fore.
3. Be at ease, comfortable carrying yourself.
4. Hustle, hustle, hustle

5. Have an surprise element.

Five phases of building conference presence:

1. Conceptualize and Prepare
2. Before the conference begins.
3. During the conference.
4. During the session.
5. After the conference.

How five phases pan out ?:

In the first phase, look out your unique skills that you can bring towards the conference. Marrying his avid passion towards a musical instrument called as Tumbi and his interest in singing, Manbinder penned a song that went with the theme of his presentation (check the video).
Not only this, he designed an add-on to his attire, a Rocket that went with the theme that he chose for his session.
In doing this, he successfully applied the principles of being interesting and bringing your uniqueness to the fore

Musical Instrument: Tumbi
In the second phase, a few days before the conference began he started to periodically tweet about what people can expect from his sessions. He gave little teasers almost every day with the right hashtags to make his messages searchable
He thus applied the principle of hustling to generate interest and capture attention in advance.

In the third phase, during the conference Manbinder ensured his presence. It was a three day conference with ample networking time and opportunity. When his session was not on, Manbinder ensured that he always wore the specially designed rocket add-on. Seeing an unusual add-on, it intrigued people and drew them towards him. Many people approached him to enquire about the concept and helped him build bridges. His Rocket add-on also had a QR code that people could simply scan to register for his session.
In doing this, he applied the principles of being interesting and also the principle of being comfortable carrying himself.

In the fourth phase, what happened is very evident in the video shared. He started with aeroplane theme (very apt as the attendees had flown to the venue), introduced himself as pilot and put together a spectacular song performance very aligned to the theme.
He successfully applied the principle of bringing his uniqueness to the fore while being interesting to the audience.

In the last phase, post the conference he again took to Twitter to thank the new fans and followers and ensured a good level of engagement. As a measure of success, he gained 30% more followers on Twitter.

Me with Manbinder at Citrix Synergy
In many of my conversations with Manbinder during the event, his approach quite resonated with me which inspired me to write this post. In many of my public presentations, I had followed doing small magic shows as ice breaker. Doing something unexpected always catches people's attention positively and has a potential to make an otherwise routine topic interesting.

Did you find this post useful? What is your playbook to build effective conference presence?
Please share in comments.

No comments: