Don Tapscott on How to Extend the Speaker-Audience Relationship

December 6, 2010

in Future of Conferences, Interview

At the World Business Forum in Milan I had the chance to talk with bestselling author and management guru Don Tapscott (web, twitter, facebook) on how to make a richer conference experience and how microblogging kicks into the learning process.

For the conference organizer his advice can be summed up as building communities rather than holding events, or in other words as a context provider for “things” to happen.

Extending the Conference Experience

According to Tapscott, the key issue to make the learning experience much richer relies on stretching the relationship with the audience over a period of time in which the conference represents an intervetion in a broader learning process. This could be done by allowing the people to engage with the speaker and the content in much more elaborate ways:

“Today I gave a speech [at the World Business Forum] and then I’m gone. In the future I can see a lot more where maybe I have online discussions, I set up some hypothesis and ideas, I come and give a presentation, then we have all kind of small group discussions. This might be synthesized and at the end of the day I might close it with some kind of summary integration statement that puts things together for people and then gives them a whole bunch of other assignements. So you think about building communities rather than holding events”.

An advice given by Tapscott to a big publisher could also be extrapolated to event organizers:

“Think of yourself as a curator. Think of yourself as a community builder. Think of you as a context provider where by you encourage people to self organize and to co-innovate value with you”.

Lectures, learning, storytelling and… Twitter

Tapscott’s presentations consist in telling stories: “It’s not a good way of learning but it’s a good way of motivating someone to think differently”.

In the rare ocasions in which he is an attendee rather than a speaker, he takes notes and I tweet them and then collects all these thoughts together as a richer insight on what happened on stage.

“Twitter is much more effective than taking notes because on Twitter you’re writing notes but you’re seeing what of these ideas resonate and you also get feedback on the ideas, plus you’re building community […] microblogging a series of ideas is actually a really effective way of internalizing as well. It enhances the experience dramatically”.

Does it bother him that people are looking at their screens tweeting rather than at him?

“When someone is tweeting while I’m speaking, I view that as the greatest sign of respect”

Books by Don Tapscott (selection)

Over the last 30 years Don has written several books on the impact and dynamics of the “digital economy”, including Wikinomics, Growing Up Digital and the most recent Macrowikinimics, but for him they are mostly “a billboard, and advertisement for the main business”, which is being an international speaker and consultant.

Italian bloggers posing with Don Tapscott: Alberto D'Ottavi (@dottavi), Don Tapscott (@dtapscott), Gianfranco Chicco (@gchicco) and Marco Massarotto (@marcomassarotto)

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