Knowing When NOT to Be the Expert
I attended a conference this past weekend and had the unique opportunity to have podcasting explained to me a few times by fellow attendees. Since having sold the GigaVox production platform to Podango last fall, and now that our third child has arrived I am on the hunt for what I will do next. As part of my investigation I ponied up $3,000 to spend 3 days immersed at an industry conference in one of the businesses I’m researching. I did not know a single person at this conference nor did they know me or have any idea of my background, connection to, or involvement with podcasting.
As is usual with conferences, you learn a lot, but the real action is in the halls and cocktail lounges. I joined a group of about 10 in one of the lounges and the subject of podcasting came up. Two of the folks present were hot on the topic and went on to explain it to the entire group. Where they felt podcasting worked, where the opportunities for marketing and monetization were and how to best use the medium. It was absolutely fascinating! Even better, it happened a few more times throughout the conference.
I learned a lot about how people who are new to the podcasting medium view it as opposed to those of us who have shepherded it along since the late summer of 2004. While intellectually I have always understood some of these ideas, I have never had them explained to me as “fact.” If you think about it, most of the conferences I go to, people are talking to me after I’ve given a presentation or been on a panel, etc., their comments and questions are shaped by the dynamic established by the conference: “presenter – attendee.”
I have never been in the position to have anyone be the “expert” and explain podcasting to me. As a result of what I learned this past weekend I have modified some of my presentations. Clearly people new to the podcasting game have a very different approach to podcasting, and while I was definitely on the right track for connecting with them in my presentations, it is now crystal clear to me where I can better refine my presentations. My goal when speaking/presenting is always to connect with the largest segment of the audience possible and give them the take away value they deserve. Whether or not I pursue the business I was researching at the conference, the information I gathered and how it can improve my own presentations on podcasting and new media was well worth the price of admission.
So the lesson for podcasting experts and consultants: when given the opportunity to discuss podcasting among folks that don’t know your background, hold your tongue! Everyone will be duly impressed by your expertise and credentials, etc., by the end of the conversation, but you get the real take away value by waiting and quietly listening at first.
So what did I learn? Well, that cost me $3,000, so I’m going to hold on to it for now. I can tell you that it reaffirms the things I’ve been thinking about regarding where this is all going and it has definitely helped to crystalize how I can best communicate it to people who have little or no experience with podcasting and new media.